Rebecca Stutz

Rebecca Stutz


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Works at Department of Zoology
Telephone 08-16 40 58
Visiting address Svante Arrheniusväg 18 B
Room D 525
Postal address Zoologiska institutionen: Etologi 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Rebecca S. Stutz (et al.). Forest Ecology and Management 390, 1-7

    Mammalian browsers can cause ecologically and economically significant damage to important tree species, particularly at the vulnerable seedling stage. Some tree species or particular parts of trees are less preferred as a result of chemical defences - harnessing such defences could reduce the appeal of more preferred trees and thus their loss to browsing. We tested the potential of birch bark extract, a forestry by-product, to protect seedlings of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris from two globally significant browsers: moose Alces alces and red deer Cervus elaphus. We quantified the responses by captive animals to extract application as a function of both the distance between seedlings and whether the extract was applied to all or alternate seedlings. Both moose and red deer consumed pine seedlings less frequently when seedlings were treated with birch bark extract, but their responses differed when only alternate seedlings were treated. At inter-seedling distances equivalent to those used in forestry, red deer browsed untreated seedlings more frequently when alternate seedlings were treated than when none were treated (associational susceptibility), whereas moose browsed untreated seedlings less frequently with treated than untreated neighbours (associational refuge). These neighbourhood effects were not evident at inter-seedling distances three times larger or smaller than those used in forestry. There was also no significant difference in the frequency of browsing on treated seedlings in alternate compared to completely treated arrangements at any inter-seedling distance. Red deer removed significantly less foliage from treated than untreated seedlings once browsed. Browsing by moose followed a similar but non-significant trend. The relative number of untreated to treated seedlings browsed was 2:1 for red deer and 4:1 for moose. Red deer used a finer scale of selection than moose for choosing between seedlings, consistent with their smaller body mass. However, the coarser-scale of selection used by moose resulted in consumption of more untreated relative to treated seedlings. Our study highlights the potential of existing plant defensive chemistry, harvested from forestry by-products, to reduce herbivore damage to tree seedlings. We also demonstrate the need to consider both plant associational effects and the foraging strategies of the dominant herbivores in applying repellents.

  • 2017. Rebecca S. Stutz (et al.). Oikos 126 (2), 259-268

    Food quality is an important consideration in the foraging strategy of all animals, including herbivores. Those that can detect and assess the nutritional value of plants from afar, using senses such as smell and sight, can forage more efficiently than those that must assess food quality by taste alone. Selective foraging not only affects herbivore fitness but can influence the structure and composition of plant communities, yet little is known about how olfactory and visual cues help herbivores to find preferred plants. We tested the ability of a free-ranging, generalist mammalian browser, the swamp wallaby Wallabia bicolor, to use olfactory and visual plant cues to find and/or browse differentially on Eucalyptus pilularis seedlings grown under different nutrient conditions. Low-nutrient seedlings differed from high-nutrient seedlings, having lighter coloured leaves, red stems and lower biomass and nitrogen content. In the absence of visual cues, wallabies used odour to differentiate vials containing cut seedlings. They visited and investigated patches with high-nutrient seedling odour most, followed by patches with low-nutrient seedling odour, and patches with no added odour least. However, when visual and olfactory cues of seedlings were present, wallabies reversed their foraging response and were more likely to browse low- than high-nutrient seedlings. This browsing difference, in turn, disappeared when long-range visual cues were reduced by pinning seedlings horizontal to the ground. We suggest that visual cues overrode the effects of olfactory cues on browsing patterns of intact seedlings. Our study shows that herbivores can respond to odours of higher nutrient plants but in ecologically realistic scenarios they use a variety of visual and olfactory cues, with a context-dependent outcome that is not always selection of high nutrient food. Our results demonstrate the importance of testing the sensory abilities of herbivores in realistic multi-sensory settings to understand their function in selective foraging.

Show all publications by Rebecca Stutz at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 13, 2017

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