Consequences of disperser behaviour for seedling establishment of a mistletoe species

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From: Austral Ecology(Vol. 42, Issue 8)
Publisher: Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 259 words

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Byline: Guillermo C. Amico, Yamila Sasal, Romina Vidal-Russell, Marcelo A. Aizen, Juan Manuel Morales Keywords: Dromiciops gliroides ; parasitic plant; seedling establishment; temperate forest; Tristerix Abstract The dispersal process in plants links adults and their offspring. For frugivore-dispersed plants, animal behaviour can have a strong effect on plant fitness. Many mistletoes are totally dependent on animals that deposit seeds on suitable hosts and particular branch diameters. We characterised the seed dispersal and seedling establishment of the mistletoe Tristerix corymbosus, which at our study site, is exclusively dispersed by the marsupial Dromiciops gliroides. Mistletoes' fruits have a viscous pulp that remains in the seed even after dispersal. This substance adheres the seed to the host branch. We estimated host branch availability in the forest and seed deposition (faeces) by the marsupial in the study area. Specifically, the branch suitability factors we assessed were host identity, branch status (alive or dead), branch diameter, height, and canopy cover. Lodged faeces were individually marked and the number of seed deposited within these droppings was counted, and we recorded the number of seedlings with true leaves that had established after 1 year to estimate the probability of seedling establishment. Branch diameter and canopy cover had a significant positive effect on seed deposition probability. Seedling establishment probability decreased with the number of seeds deposited per faeces and with canopy cover. In general, the marsupial deposited mistletoe seeds in microsites that increase the chance of seedling establishment. Thus, the movement behaviour of the marsupial has a positive effect on the regeneration process of this mistletoe species.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A516165987