Potential seed dispersal distances of native and non-native fleshy fruiting shrubs in the South African Mediterranean Climate Region
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Bird flight distances for the small Zosterops capensis, the medium-size Pycnonotus capensis and the large Colius striatus were extracted from these birds’ initial ring and subsequent recapture locations and expressed on equivalent per km bases. The products of the bird-ring recapture records in nine different flight distance categories and daily consumption rates by these birds of seeds of two native (Chrysanthemoides monilifera and Olea europaea spp. africana) and two alien (Lantana camara and Solanum mauritianum) shrubs were used to construct seed dispersal curves. The dispersal distances to which ingested seeds were theoretically restricted were computed from the product of the retention time of seed in the birds’ guts and their flight speeds using published functions. All three bird species displayed thin long-tailed seed dispersal curves characterized by peaks at distances below 1 km which declined progressively with increasing distances, the tails extending to distances of up to 400 km. Flight distances corresponding with predicted seed gut retention times were 9.4 km in the small Z. capensis, 17.8 km in the medium size P. capensis and 21.2 km in the large C. striatus. These potential seed dispersal distances were much greater that the frequently reported long distance seed dispersal threshold of 1 km by frugivorous birds in fragmented landscapes.
- RESEARCH: Esler K