RUGGERA roman alberto
Bird-dispersed plants enhance conspicuousness of fruit display via crop size and chromatic contrast
MARIANO ORDANO; PEDRO G. BLENDINGER; SILVIA B. LOMASCOLO; NATACHA P. CHACOFF; MARIANO S. SANCHEZ; MARÍA G. NUÑEZ-MONTELLANO; JULIETA JIMENEZ; ROMÁN A. RUGGERA; MARIANA VALOY
WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC
In visually driven seed dispersal mutualisms, natural selection should promote plant strategies that maximize fruit visibility to dispersers. Plants might increase seed dispersal profitability by increasing conspicuousness of fruit display, understood as a plant strategy to maximize fruit detectability by seed dispersers.The role of different plant traits in fruit choice and consumption by seed dispersers has been broadly studied. However, there is no clear evidence about the importance of the traits that increase conspicuousness of fruit display. Because strategies to maximize conspicuousness of fruit display are diverse, and usually are expected to be costly, we would expect that individual plant species will produce an efficient combination of traits.We explored this prediction with 62 fleshy fruited plant species of a subtropical Andean forest (Southern Yungas), and using a large dataset of fruit consumption by birds (4476 records). Conspicuousness of fruit display was characterized by both fruit and plant traits including chromatic contrast, size, exposure, aggregation and crop size of fruits. We also considered phylogenetic effects on phenotypic variation.Fruit consumption was explained by fruit chromatic contrast depending on fruit crop size. These traits revealed low phylogenetic effects, with the exception of four plant clades at different levels in the phylogenetic tree. Negative correlations between pairs of traits support our assumption that fruit display traits are costly, suggesting natural selection favours parsimonious evolutionary pathways.Plant species seem to rely on conspicuousness of fruit display by a combination of traits that might minimize costs of fruit display. This appears adaptively relevant to improve communication with mutualistic animals, to increase fruit consumption in a community context and, ultimately, to enhance the profitability of seed dispersal.