Predation and Dispersal of Large and Small Seeds of a Tropical Palm

BREWER , STEVEN W. (2001) Predation and Dispersal of Large and Small Seeds of a Tropical Palm. Oikos. ISSN 0030-1299

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    Seed size may vary greatly among individuals within plant species. What effects the extremes of this variation have for seeds taken by small mammals are poorly understood. Not all seeds removed by small mammals are necessarily eaten. Small rodents are common seed predators, but they may disperse a significant proportion of seeds by scatter hoarding them via burial. Size-dependent predation and dispersal of seeds has not been directly tested within a plant species for tropical rodents. This study tested whether or not large and small nuts of Astrocaryum mexicanum (Palmae) differed in their fates due to handling by the spiny pocket mouse Heteromys desmarestianus (Heteromyidae). Exclosures were used to give small rodents exclusive access to A. mexicanum nuts. H. desmarestianus preferentially consumed large over small A. mexicanum nuts, but cached (in burrows and by scatter hoarding) similar proportions of these nuts by size. Small nuts tended to be buried farther away from exclosures than large nuts. Although sample sizes of buried nuts were small, the rodents retrieved all buried large nuts, but 30% of the small nuts remained buried long enough to germinate. I also examined predispersal predation by insects and found that insects appear to have no size preference for A. mexicanum nuts, but insect predation appears to hinder nut development. Thus, nuts attacked by insects develop to be significantly smaller, with a low proportion of undamaged endosperm, than uninfested nuts. It is hypothesized that the preferential predation of large A. mexicanum nuts by H. desmarestianus is a response by these rodents to insect predation

    Item Type: Peer-reviewed Journal Article
    Related URLs:
      Publisher: Nordic Ecological Society
      Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AH) Plants
      (Z) Other or Unspecified
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3C) Other Universities
      Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2015 10:54
      Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015 10:54

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