The influence of plant secondary metabolites on the nutritional ecology of herbivorous terrestrial vertebrates
M. Denise Dearing,1 William J. Foley,2 and Stuart McLean3
1Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112; email:
2School of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia; email:
3School of Pharmacy, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7005, Australia; email:
Plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) significantly impact the nutritional ecology of terrestrial vertebrate herbivores. Herbivores have a wide range of mechanisms (herbivore offenses) to mitigate the negative effects of PSMs. We discuss several behavioral and physiological offenses used by terrestrial vertebrates. Several newly recognized herbivore offenses such as regulated absorption and regulation of toxin intake are presented. We give a detailed description of the biotransformation system with respect to PSMs. We also summarize recent findings of plant-animal interactions for lizards, birds, and mammals. Finally, we discuss some new tools that can be applied to long-standing questions of plant-vertebrate interactions.