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Ecology of the fruit-colour polymorphism in Rubus spectabilis

AuthorsTraveset, Anna ; Willson, Mary F.
KeywordsColour preferences
Avian seed dispersal
Southeast Alaska
Seed germination
Fruit polymorphism
Issue Date1998
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
CitationEvolutionary Ecology 12(3): 331-345 (1998)
AbstractAlthough some studies have focused on the colour polymorphisms of flowers and fruits, little is known of their ecological and evolutionary significance. We investigated the potential contribution of several factors to the maintenance of fruit-colour polymorphism in Rubus spectabilis, a common shrub in the temperate rainforests of southeast Alaska. Fruits occur in two colours (red and orange), whose frequencies vary geographically. The two colour morphs have similar size, weight, seed load and nutrient composition. Colour preferences of avian frugivores, in the aviary and in the field, varied among individuals, but the majority favoured red fruits. Seed predators (mostly rodents) did not discriminate between seeds from different morphs. The effect of seed passage through the digestive tract of frugivores (birds and bears) on germination was similar for both morphs, although there were significant differences among frugivores. The type of soil on which the seeds are deposited influenced their germination behaviour, suggesting that some soils could favour one morph over the other. Such differences may contribute to the regional differences in frequencies of the two morphs. This study emphasizes the need to investigate fruit and seed characteristics that correlate with fruit colour; the colour preferences of consumers is only one of several selection pressures that determine the frequency distribution of fruit colours.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1006504317585
Identifiersdoi: 10.1023/A:1006504317585
issn: 0269-7653
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos
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