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How Do Predators Cope with Chemically Defended Foods?

John I. Glendinning
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 213, No. 3 (Dec., 2007), pp. 252-266
DOI: 10.2307/25066643
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25066643
Page Count: 15
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How Do Predators Cope with Chemically Defended Foods?
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Abstract

Many prey species (including plants) deter predators with defensive chemicals. These defensive chemicals act by rendering the prey's tissues noxious, toxic, or both. Here, I explore how predators cope with the presence of these chemicals in their diet. First, I describe the chemosensory mechanisms by which predators (including herbivores) detect defensive chemicals. Second, I review the mechanisms by which predators either avoid or tolerate defensive chemicals in prey. Third, I examine how effectively free-ranging predators can overcome the chemical defenses of prey. The available evidence indicates that predators have mixed success overcoming these defenses. This conclusion is based on reports of free-ranging predators rejecting unpalatable but harmless prey, or voluntarily ingesting toxic prey.

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