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Fruit removal efficiency and success: influence of crop size in a neotropical treelet

Research paper by Raúl Ortiz-Pulido, Yuri V. Albores-Barajas, S. Anaid Díaz

Indexed on: 11 Jul '06Published on: 11 Jul '06Published in: Plant Ecology



Abstract

The reproductive success of animal-dispersed plants is closely linked to the number of seeds that they are able to disperse. The fruit crop size hypothesis states that a plant with large fruit crop size will attract more dispersers than a plant with a smaller fruit crop, which may result in more seeds being dispersed from the foremost. In this study, we experimentally examined the effect of crop size and other factors on primary seed dispersal in a neotropical shrub/tree, Casearia corymbosa (Flacourtiaceae). We used two predictive variables of reproductive success, which produce an accurate picture of seed dispersal ratio: fruit removal efficiency (proportion of a fruit crop removed by frugivores) and fruit removal success (relative contribution of each individual tree to the number of fruits removed in the population). We established two levels of fruit crop size at the C. corymbosa individuals, using plants with large (150 fruits) and small crops (50 fruits). We found that individual plants with larger crops had significantly higher values of fruit removal efficiency (92.6%) and success (5%) than plants with smaller crops (69.3% and 1.3%, respectively). Fruit removal efficiency was related to vegetation type, plant height and fruit width, but the variance explained by these variables was low ( < 8%). Fruit removal success was significantly related to crop size ( > 90% of the variance explained). These results suggest that fruit removal efficiency and success are strongly related to fruit crop size of C. corymbosa plants.