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Closed Access item Influence of elaiosome on postdispersal dynamics of an ant-dispersed plant

Authors:Garrido, José L.
Rey, Pedro J.
Herrera, Carlos M.
Keywords:Myrmecochory, Elaiosome, Helleborus foetidus, Seed size, Postdispersal seed removal, Seedling survival
Issue Date:May-2009
Citation:Acta Oecologica 35 (2009) 393–399
Abstract:Specialized myrmecochorous plants bear an elaiosome attached to the seed. Ants benefit from food provided by this appendage and plants get their seeds eventually dispersed. Aside from the benefits conferred by seed dispersal, we hypothesize that the influence of the elaiosome might extend to later life history stages such as emergence or survival, but few studies have examined rigorously such delayed effects on seed and seedling dynamics. This paper tests this hypothesis for the ant-dispersed herb Helleborus foetidus. Presence or lack of the elaiosome had some interesting delayed influences. Specifi- cally, our results show that elaiosome removal not only enhanced seedling emergence, but also reduced cumulative long-term seed predation. The combination of these two effects, together with the inherent positive effect of the elaiosome on seed dispersal, highlights the ecological and evolutionary importance of myrmecochorous systems
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actao.2009.02.001
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