Studies of zoochorous seed dispersal systems often consider crop size, yet seldom consider the kinds and amounts of fruits surrounding parent plants (the fruit neighborhood) when attempting to explain among-plant variation in fruit removal. We studied avian frugivory at 24 Schefflera morototoni trees from February to May 1998 in central Puerto Rico. The number of fruits removed by avian seed dispersers per visit was similar among focal trees (typically 2-4). In contrast, visitation rate was highly variable (range: 0-71 visits per 4 h). We used multiple regression analyses to evaluate the relative roles of crop size (focal tree ripe fruit abundance) and fruit neighborhood variables (measured within 30 m of focal trees) in affecting visitation to focal trees by avian frugivores. Visitation rate was positively related to crop size (although this variable was only significant in one of four regression models considered) and negatively related to the presence or abundance of conspecific fruits, suggesting that trees competed intraspecifically for dispersers. Relationships between visitation and heterospecific fruits were mixed - some kinds of fruits appeared to enhance visitation to focal trees, while others seemed to reduce visitation. In most regression models, neighborhood variables had larger effects on visitation than focal tree fruit crop size. Our results highlight the important effects of local fruiting environments on the ability of individual plants to attract seed dispersers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics