Adaptations for a two-phase seed dispersal system involving vertebrates and ants in a hemiepiphytic fig (Ficus microcarpa: Moraceae)

S. Kaufmann, D. B. McKey, M. Hossaert-Mckey, C. C. Horvitz

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Partially covering the endocarp of each individual drupelet of F. microcarpa is a fleshy, discrete lipid-containing exocarp that suggests adaptation for seed dispersal by ants. The exocarps retained their attractiveness to ants and were not visibly altered following passage of the entire fruit through the gut of a frugivorous bird, the Indian hill mynah Gracula religiosa. Germination percentage was not significantly affected by gut passage or exocarp removal. Results suggest that F. microcarpa has a two-stage seed dispersal system, in which primary dispersal by vertebrates is followed by secondary dispersal by ants. Dispersal aided by ants may be of significance in the biology of this exotic hemiepiphyte in S Florida, where it is naturalized and appears to be spreading. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-977
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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