SELECTIVE FEEDING ON ARTICHOKE FOLIAGE BY WHITE-TAILED DEER IN TEXAS

S.M. Cooper , D.I. Leskovar
Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) is a potential new crop in southwest Texas but depredation of transplants by wild white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can reduce field stands significantly. Feeding trials were conducted with six tame, captive white-tailed does to determine whether the animals preferentially selected foliage at different stages of maturity, or preferred different cultivars. Deer consistently preferred to eat the most mature foliage offered; they selected 6 month old over-mature transplants over 3 month old transplants of ‘Imperial Star’ and ‘Green Globe Improved’ cultivars. When feeding on leaves from older established artichoke plants of ‘Imperial Star’, ‘Green Globe Improved’, ‘Harmony’, ‘Lorca’ and ‘Opal’ cultivars, they favoured mature leaves over young developing leaves. Deer showed little selection between cultivars; they tended to eat young transplants of ‘Green Globe’ before similar aged transplants of ‘Imperial Star’, but showed no preference between established plants of these cultivars. Selection for more fibrous mature leaves is contrary to the general dietary rules of herbivores which usually select for highest nutrient content and against fibre. However, limiting intake of potentially harmful phytochemicals is an important factor in diet selection of browsing ruminants. Artichokes are rich in phenolic compounds which are promoted for their anti-oxidant properties in human nutrition, but many phenolic compounds also have an anti-microbial function which may be deleterious to the microbial rumen flora, and hence digestive processes, of deer. If the phytochemicals prevalent in immature artichoke tissue can be identified and shown to limit consumption by deer, this opens up the possibility of selective breeding to create more deer–resistant artichoke cultivars.
Cooper , S.M. and Leskovar , D.I. (2012). SELECTIVE FEEDING ON ARTICHOKE FOLIAGE BY WHITE-TAILED DEER IN TEXAS. Acta Hortic. 942, 221-224
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2012.942.29
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2012.942.29
crop predation, 'Green Globe', 'Imperial Star', phenolics, transplants
English

Acta Horticulturae