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Geographic patterns in fruit colour diversity: do leaves constrain the colour of fleshy fruits?

AuthorsBurns, Kevin C.; Cazetta, Eliana; Galetti, Mauro; Valido, Alfredo ; Schaefer, H. Martin
Plant signalling
Seed dispersal
Tetrahedral colour space
Issue Date26-Nov-2008
CitationOecologia, doi: 10.1007/s00442-008-1227-3 (2008)
AbstractWe tested for geographic patterns in fruit colour diversity. Fruit colours are thought to promote detection by seed dispersers. Because seed dispersers differ in their spectral sensitivities, we predicted that fruit colour diversity would be higher in regions with higher seed disperser diversity (i.e. the tropics). We collected reflectance data on 232 fruiting plant species and their natural backgrounds in seven localities in Europe, North and South America, and analysed fruit colour diversity according to the visual system of birds—the primary consumer types of these fruits. We found no evidence that fruit colours are either more conspicuous or more diverse in tropical areas characterised by higher seed disperser diversity. Instead, fruit colour diversity was lowest in central Brazil, suggesting that fruit colours may be more diverse in temperate regions. Although we found little evidence for geographic variation in fruit hues, the spectral properties of fruits were positively associated with the spectral properties of backgrounds. This result implies that fruit colours may be influenced by selection on the reflectance properties of leaves, thus constraining the evolution of fruit colour. Overall, the results suggest that fruit colours in the tropics are neither more diverse nor more conspicuous than temperate fruits, and that fruit colours may be influenced by correlated selection on leaf reflectance properties.
Description7 pages, 2 figures.-- Supplementary material available: The list of fruit species, their colour as perceived by humans, their provenance and main disperser types. The dispersal category "mixed" refers to species consumed by birds and mammals (XLS, 43 kb).
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-008-1227-3
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