Ecological Research

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1033–1038 | Cite as

Selective consumption of acorns by the Japanese wood mouse according to tannin content: a behavioral countermeasure against plant secondary metabolites

  • Akiko Takahashi
  • Takuya Shimada
Original Article


We examined the presence of selective consumption against tannins in acorns as a pre-ingestive countermeasure to plant secondary metabolites by using the Japanese wood mouse (Apodemus speciosus) and acorns of Quercus serrata, which contained ca. 6.4% tannins on a dry weight basis. In addition, the presence of selective consumption against proteins was also examined. In the acorn-feeding experiment, 18 wood mice were allocated to two groups: the experienced group (N = 9), which had previous experience in feeding on acorns, and the inexperienced group (N = 9), which had no experience. Mice of both groups were fed only acorns for 3 nights. Selectivity against tannins (an index estimated from the tannin content in control, remaining, and ingested acorns) was significantly positive in the experienced group, indicating the presence of selective consumption against tannins. In contrast, mice in the inexperienced group did not show significant selectivity against tannins. Comparing the selectivity indices directly between two groups, however, they did not differ significantly. Selective consumption against proteins rather than that for proteins also occurred in the experienced group, but it was thought to be a byproduct resulted from the selectivity against tannins. Selective consumption against tannins can mitigate the negative effects of tannins by decreasing tannin intake.


Selective foraging Plant secondary metabolites Apodemus speciosus Quercus serrata Pre-ingestive defense 



We are grateful to Y. Takahata for letting us use some experimental equipment, H. Furusawa for instructing the usage of the NC analyzer, H. Itoh for advice on comparison of the tannin content of the two cotyledons of an acorn, Y. Segawa for great help with keeping many mice, K. Ohsumi for information about acorn sampling sites, and R. Narita for advice about randomization on R. We also thank all members of the Laboratory of Forest Biology for their helpful discussion. This research was supported partly by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, nos. 17570027 and 19380091, to T.S. from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture of Japan.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Forest Biology, Department of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Tohoku Research CenterForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteMoriokaJapan

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