The role of waterbirds in the dispersal of freshwater cladocera and bryozoa in southern Africa

Reynolds, Chevonne, and Cumming, Graeme S. (2015) The role of waterbirds in the dispersal of freshwater cladocera and bryozoa in southern Africa. African Zoology, 50 (4). pp. 307-311.

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It has long been presumed that waterbirds disperse the propagules of aquatic organisms. However, it is only in recent years that this claim has been empirically explored and little is still known about waterbird-mediated dispersal in southern Africa. Aquatic invertebrates are thought to be well adapted to dispersal by waterbirds because of their ability to produce hardy resting eggs. We explored the capacity of waterbirds to disperse the eggs of both cladocera and bryozoans via endo- and ectozoochory. We examined 283 faecal samples and 394 feather brushings from six waterbird species and two wetland sites in South Africa for the presence of diapausing eggs. A total of 108 intact diaspores were recovered, with intact eggs present in 16% and 7% of the faecal samples and feather brushings, respectively. Our results indicate that southern African waterbirds do take up the resting eggs of aquatic invertebrates and that these eggs can survive intact through the gut or remain attached to the feathers. These results provide evidence that waterbirds may be important vectors for aquatic invertebrates in southern Africa and imply that waterbirds may play a vital role in maintaining connectivity between invertebrate populations in isolated wetland patches.

Item ID: 41006
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2224-073X
Keywords: connectivity, Daphnia, ectozoochory, endozoochory, ephippia, statoblast, waterbird-mediated dispersal, waterfowl
Funders: National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), DST–NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, James S McDonnell Foundation
Date Deposited: 27 May 2016 15:17
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961302 Protected Conservation Areas in Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 34%
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