Navigation Links
Rodent robbers good for tropical trees
Date:7/16/2012

There's no honor among thieves when it comes to rodent robberswhich turns out to be a good thing for tropical trees that depend on animals to spread their seeds.

Results of a yearlong study in Panama, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of July 16, suggest that thieving rodents helped the black palm tree survive by taking over the seed-spreading role of the mighty mastodon and other extinct elephant-like creatures that are thought to have eaten these large seeds.

"The question is how this tree managed to survive for 10,000 years if its seed dispersers are extinct," says Roland Kays, a zoologist with North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. "There's always been this mystery of how does this tree survive, and now we have a possible answer for it."

The study showed that agoutis, rainforest rodents that hoard seeds like squirrels, repeatedly stole from their neighbors' underground seed caches. All that pilfering moved some black palm seeds far enough from the mother tree to create favorable conditions for germination.

"We knew that these rodents would bury the seeds but we had no idea that there would be this constant digging up of the seed, moving it and burying it, over and over again," says Kays, a member of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute team. "As rodents steal the same seed many, many times, it adds up to a long-distance movement of the seed that one animal by itself could have never done."

One seed was buried 36 times before an agouti dug it up and ate it. About 14 percent of the seeds survived until the following year.

The study, funded with a National Science Foundation grant, caught the furry thieves in the act via individual tags on agoutis, video surveillance of seed caches and tiny motion-activated transmitters attached to more than 400 seeds.

Applying such sophisticated animal tracking techniques to the plant world has the potential to improve scientists' understanding of forest ecology and regeneration, Kays says.

"When you think about global climate change and habitats shifting, for a forest to move into new areas, trees need to have their seeds moved into new areas. This opens up a route to study how animals can help trees adjust to climate change through seed dispersal."

Kays, a faculty member with NC State's College of Natural Resources, was part of an international team that included scientists from Ohio State University and institutions in the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Roland Kays
roland_kays@ncsu.edu
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Native plant restoration not enough to maintain tropical dry forests in Hawaii
2. The absence of elephants and rhinoceroses reduces biodiversity in tropical forests
3. Palms reveal the significance of climate change for tropical biodiversity
4. Dying trees in Southwest set stage for erosion, water loss in Colorado River
5. New report examines effects of trees killed by bark beetles on wildfire
6. Beetle-infested pine trees contribute more to air pollution and haze in forests
7. The millennium-old olive trees of the Iberian Peninsula are younger than expected
8. Beetle-fungus disease threatens crops and landscape trees in Southern California
9. Handful of heavyweight trees per acre are forest champs
10. Chimpanzee ground nests offer new insight into our ancestors descent from the trees
11. Mesquite trees displacing Southwestern grasslands
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Rodent robbers good for tropical trees
(Date:3/24/2017)... DUBLIN , Mar 24, 2017 Research ... Vehicle Access System Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to ... ... poised to grow at a CAGR of around 15.1% over the ... This industry report analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... 21, 2017   Neurotechnology , a provider ... today announced the release of the SentiVeillance ... improved facial recognition using up to 10 surveillance, ... computer. The new version uses deep neural-network-based facial ... it utilizes a Graphing Processing Unit (GPU) for ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... March 20, 2017 At this year,s CeBIT Chancellor ... biometrics manufacturer DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the DERMALOG stand together with ... this year,s CeBIT partner country. At the largest German biometrics company the ... fingerprint, face and iris recognition as well as DERMALOG´s multi-biometrics system.   ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/26/2017)... July 26, 2017  Nurse practitioners play a crucial role ... of a Merck Manuals survey released today. The ... revealed that most (88 percent) believe they spend at least ... prescriptions. ... Merck Manuals survey of 210 nurse practitioners finds ...
(Date:7/24/2017)... MA (PRWEB) , ... July 24, 2017 , ... Charm ... has been accepted by the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) Laboratory Committee ... Pilot Program, set to launch July 1, 2017. , The NCIMS voted at its ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... The Arnold and Mabel ... Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ... award recognizes an individual who has made and is continuing to make significant ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... AR (PRWEB) , ... July 20, 2017 , ... ... Rogers is joining the company’s board of directors. This addition continues to strengthen ... board," said Calvin Goforth, CEO and Chairman. “He is a highly accomplished business executive ...
Breaking Biology Technology: