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:6/23/2017)... ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, 2017  IBM ... in dairy research, today announced a new collaboration using ... the chances that the global milk supply is impacted ... project, Cornell University has become the newest academic institution ... Chain, a food safety initiative that includes IBM Research, ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... DALLAS , May 16, 2017   ... for health organizations, and MD EMR Systems ... certified development partner for GE, have established a ... Patient Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, ... Centricity EMR. These new integrations ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... Inc., a global expert in SoC-based imaging and computing solutions, has ... features the company,s hybrid codec technology. A demonstration utilizing TeraFaces ® ... be showcased during the upcoming Medtec Japan at Tokyo Big Sight ... Las Vegas Convention Center April 24-27. ... Click here for an image of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... -- VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient support solutions, has ... (CNE) network, which will launch this week. The VMS CNEs ... professionals to enhance the patient care experience by delivering peer-to-peer ... care professionals to help women who have been diagnosed and ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology today announced that the ... its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3) B VHH13 single ... the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit its function. Dysregulation of ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Poway, California (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... afternoon speaking at his local San Diego Rotary Club. The event ... San Diego, CA and had 300+ attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... of 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding ... a scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: