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Internal seed dispersal by parrots: an overview of a neglected mutualism

Autor Blanco, Guillermo ; Bravo, Carolina ; Pacifico, Erica C.; Chamorro, Daniel; Speziale, Karina L.; Lambertucci, Sergio A.; Hiraldo, F. ; Tella, José Luis
Palabras clave Endozoochorous seed dispersal
Fruit size,
Mutualistic interactions,
Vertebrate frugivores,
Fecha de publicación 2016
Citación PeerJ, 4:e1688 (2016)
ResumenDespite the fact that parrots (Psitacifformes) are generalist apex frugivores, they have largely been considered plant antagonists and thus neglected as seed dispersers of their food plants. Internal dispersal was investigated by searching for seeds in faeces opportunistically collected at communal roosts, foraging sites and nests of eleven parrot species in different habitats and biomes in the Neotropics. Multiple intact seeds of seven plant species of five families were found in a variable proportion of faeces from four parrot species. The mean number of seeds of each plant species per dropping ranged between one and about sixty, with a maximum of almost five hundred seeds from the cacti Pilosocereus pachycladus in a single dropping of Lear's Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari). All seeds retrieved were small (<3 mm) and corresponded to herbs and relatively large, multiple-seeded fleshy berries and infrutescences from shrubs, trees and columnar cacti, often also dispersed by stomatochory. An overview of the potential constraints driving seed dispersal suggest that, despite the obvious size difference between seeds dispersed by endozoochory and stomatochory, there is no clear difference in fruit size depending on the dispersal mode. Regardless of the enhanced or limited germination capability after gut transit, a relatively large proportion of cacti seeds frequently found in the faeces of two parrot species were viable according to the tetrazolium test and germination experiments. The conservative results of our exploratory sampling and a literature review clearly indicate that the importance of parrots as endozoochorous dispersers has been largely under-appreciated due to the lack of research systematically searching for seeds in their faeces. We encourage the evaluation of seed dispersal and other mutualistic interactions mediated by parrots before their generalized population declines contribute to the collapse of key ecosystem processes
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1688
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10261/132252
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