Lacey, Mae , Capaldi, Elizabeth , Jordon-Thaden, Ingrid , Martine, Chris .
Exploring the potential for Solanum fruit ingestion and seed dispersal by rock-dwelling mammals in the Australian monsoon tropics.
Little is known about the methods of seed dispersal employed by rock-specialist spiny solanums (Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum) in the monsoon tropics of northern Australia. Previous studies infer that endozoochory may play a role, but no specific animal taxa have been identified as effective seed dispersers. The elusive rock macropod species co-occurring with solanums are potential candidates, particularly species of Petrogale (rock wallabies) and Macropus (wallaroos). To assess the potential of these animals as seed dispersers, a study is underway to determine whether rock macropods might ingest Solanum fruits and pass seeds intact. Eight Solanum taxa endemic to northern Australia were grown from wild-collected seeds hand-pollinated at flowering maturity, and then used as sources of fruit. Ripened fruits will be presented to rock macropods in captivity to determine the following: a) Will rock macropods consume Solanum fruits, and which species?, and b) Do the seeds consumed with the fruits survive gut passage? Intact seeds were removed from scats and sown to test for germinability compared with uningested seeds. Determining whether co-occurring species of mammals participate in successful endozoochorous Solanum seed dispersal has implications for conservation efforts by highlighting the importance of plant-animal interactions among narrowly endemic species. Here we present preliminary data, including experiments on seed gut passage time and germination rates following ingestion by captive rodents as proxy subjects.
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1 - Bucknell University
2 - Bucknell University, Department of Biology, Lewisburg, PA, 17837, USA
3 - Bucknell University, Biological Sciences, 203 Biology Building, Lewisburg, PA, 17837, USA, 570/577-1135
Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Undergraduate Presentation Award