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Toucans wearing GPS backpacks help Smithsonian scientists study seed dispersal
Date:7/28/2011

mother tree. Each seed had a 56 percent probability of being dropped at least 328 feet from its mother tree and an 18 percent chance of being dropped some 656 feet from the tree.

In addition, the accelerometer revealed that the toucans' peak activity and movement was in the morning followed by a lull at midday, a secondary activity peak in the afternoon, and complete inactivity at night. This is a normal pattern of tropical birds.

"Time of feeding had a strong influence on seed dispersal," the scientists write. "Seeds ingested in morning (breakfast) and afternoon (dinner) were more likely to achieve significant dispersal than seeds ingested mid-day (lunch)."

This observation explains why tropical nutmegs are "early morning specialists" with fruits that typically ripen at early and mid-morning so they are quickly removed by birds.

Ideally, the scientists observed, nutmeg trees could increase their seed dispersal distances by producing fruit with gut-processing times of around 60 minutes.


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Contact: Sonia Tejada
Tejadas@si.edu
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2

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