Mammalian Biology

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 215–220 | Cite as

Seasonal changes in the concentrations of plant secondary metabolites and their effects on food selection by Microtus oeconomus

  • Xin Dai
  • Mei Han
  • Qian Liu
  • Guozhen Shang
  • Baofa Yin
  • Aiqin Wang
  • Biggins E. Dean
  • Wanhong Wei
  • Shengmei YangEmail author
Original Investigation


Using cafeteria trials conducted during June–September 2008 in Qinghai Province, China, we investigated the selection of 20 plant species by root voles (Microtus oeconomus). It was found that both favored and edible plant groups of root voles comprised 6 species, while the remaining 8 species were anorectic plants. Three plant secondary metabolites (PSMs): flavonoids, condensed tannins, and total phenols, exhibited seasonal changes in concentration; being lowest at June and gradually increasing from July to August/September. Total phenols was the only factor included in the best model of generalized linear models, indicating that total phenols was the most important factor deterring food selection by root voles. In contrast, tannins had a weak effect on food selection by root voles. This study indicated that PSMs play an important role in food selection by root voles; however, the effects of PSMs depend on the type of PSMs. Furthermore, this finding partly verifies the hypothesis that PSMs contribute to the defense strategy of plants, significantly influencing plant selection by root voles.


Microtus oeconomus Flavonoids Condensed tannins Total phenols Food selection 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xin Dai
    • 1
  • Mei Han
    • 1
  • Qian Liu
    • 1
  • Guozhen Shang
    • 1
  • Baofa Yin
    • 1
  • Aiqin Wang
    • 1
  • Biggins E. Dean
    • 2
  • Wanhong Wei
    • 1
  • Shengmei Yang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Bioscience and BiotechnologyYangzhou UniversityJiangsuPR China
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUnited States

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