Effects of temporal variation in community-level fruit abundance on seed dispersal by birds across woody species

Shoji Naoe*, Takashi Masaki, Shoko Sakai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Premise of the Study: In animal-dispersed plants, seed dispersal patterns of the same species in the same habitat can greatly differ among individuals and temporally. Many studies have revealed the pervasive effects of spatial variation in fruit abundance on seed dispersal of individual plants. By contrast, very few studies have investigated the temporal variation in seed dispersal.

Methods: We investigated the effects of conspecific and community-level fruit abundance on fruit removal rate and seed dispersal distance of six bird-dispersed woody species in a Japanese temperate forest for 3 yr. The six species share similar fruit characteristics but have different fruiting seasons. In addition, we also considered the effects of bird seasonality in diet and species composition on seed dispersal.

Key Results: Inter-annual and inter-seasonal variation in community-level fruit abundance determined both fruit removal and the seed dispersal distance across species, but the effect differed with seasonal changes in bird behavior. Abundant fruit satiated fruit removal by birds only during fruit-feeding periods, not during insect-feeding periods. A scarcity of fruit increased the dispersal distance, but only during the migratory period. This difference was probably due to the different foraging behaviors of passing migrants and territorial birds.

Conclusions: Our results illustrated that temporal variation in community-level fruit abundance could be a determining factor for seed dispersal in temperate forests. The effects of temporal variations in fruit abundance on seed dispersal patterns should be investigated in other ecosystems in order to understand their importance and associations with frugivore phenology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1792-1801
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

User-Defined Keywords

  • endozoochory
  • fleshy-fruited plant species
  • fruit abundance
  • fruit removal
  • Ogawa Forest Reserve
  • plant–animal interactions
  • seasonality
  • seed dispersal distance
  • temperate forest


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