We describe some recent themes in the nutritional and chemical ecology of herbivores and the importance of a broad pharmacological view of plant nutrients and chemical defenses that we integrate as “Pharm-ecology”. The central role that dose, concentration, and response to plant components (nutrients and secondary metabolites) play in herbivore foraging behavior argues for broader application of approaches derived from pharmacology to both terrestrial and aquatic plant-herbivore systems. We describe how concepts of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics are used to better understand the foraging phenotype of herbivores relative to nutrient and secondary metabolites in food. Implementing these concepts into the field remains a challenge, but new modeling approaches that emphasize tradeoffs and the properties of individual animals show promise. Throughout, we highlight similarities and differences between the historic and future applications of pharm-ecological concepts in understanding the ecology and evolution of terrestrial and aquatic interactions between herbivores and plants. We offer several pharm-ecology related questions and hypotheses that could strengthen our understanding of the nutritional and chemical factors that modulate foraging behavior of herbivores across terrestrial and aquatic systems.
Forbey, Jennifer Sorensen; Dearing, M. Denise; Gross, Elisabeth M.; Orians, Colin M.; Sotka, Erik E.; and Foley, William J.. (2013). "A Pharm-Ecological Perspective of Terrestrial and Aquatic Plant-Herbivore Interactions". Journal of Chemical Ecology, 39(4), 465-480.