Directed seed dispersal towards areas with low conspecific tree density by a scatter-hoarding rodent

Hirsch, Ben T., Kays, Roland, Pereira, Verónica E., and Jansen, Patrick A. (2012) Directed seed dispersal towards areas with low conspecific tree density by a scatter-hoarding rodent. Ecology Letters, 15 (12). pp. 1423-1429.

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Abstract

Scatter-hoarding animals spread out cached seeds to reduce density-dependent theft of their food reserves. This behaviour could lead to directed dispersal into areas with lower densities of conspecific trees, where seed and seedling survival are higher, and could profoundly affect the spatial structure of plant communities. We tested this hypothesis with Central American agoutis and Astrocaryum standleyanum palm seeds on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. We radio-tracked seeds as they were cached and re-cached by agoutis, calculated the density of adult Astrocaryum trees surrounding each cache, and tested whether the observed number of trees around seed caches declined more than expected under random dispersal. Seedling establishment success was negatively dependent on seed density, and agoutis carried seeds towards locations with lower conspecific tree densities, thus facilitating the escape of seeds from natural enemies. This behaviour may be a widespread mechanism leading to highly effective seed dispersal by scatter-hoarding animals.

Item ID: 44232
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Astrocaryum, agouti, Barro Colorado Island, directed dispersal, density dependence, Dasyprocta punctata, secondary seed dispersal
ISSN: 1461-0248
Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF), Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Research (NFSR), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Frank Levinson Family Foundation
Projects and Grants: NSF NSFDEB- 0717071, NFSR NWO-WOTRO W85-239 and NWO-ALW 863-07-008
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2016 04:16
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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