Now it turns out it might not just be the trip through the air that's important, but also the inches-long trip through the bird.
An ant carries off a wild chili pepper seed.
Credit: Tomás Carlo
Seeds from a wild chili pepper plant found in South America, after being eaten and passed through the digestive tract of small-billed Elaenias, emerge with less of the odor that attracts seed-eating ants, and carrying fewer pathogens able to kill the seed.
Passing through bird guts increased seed survival 370 percent, regardless of how far the seeds were dispersed from its parent, according to Evan Fricke, a UW doctoral student in biology and lead author of a paper appearing online June 21 in Ecology Letters.
"Ecologists have not been considering gut processing as a factor when they find seeds having less predation or infection away from parent plants, but they should," Fricke said. "If similar mechanisms are happening with other species, then ecologists have been missing some major benefits of seed dispersal mutualism between plants and animals."The assumption has been that the better success was all a matter of distance. And in some cases it is. There have been previous experiments, for example, where seeds from a single plant were planted right by the plant and others at some distance away – no passing through an animal gut, just planted by hand. The seeds farther away survived better.
The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society, and logistical support in Bolivia was provided by Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The other UW co-authors are Melissa Simon, Karen Reagan, Jeffrey Riffell and Joshua Tewksbury, who remains a UW faculty member although he is now with the World Wildlife Fund in Switzerland. The other co-authors are Douglas Levey with the National Science Foundation and Tomás Carlo, who did postdoctoral research at the UW and is now at Pennsylvania State University.
For more information: Fricke, is working in the Mariana Islands and can be reached via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy