RODRIGUEZ CABAL mariano Alberto
Geographic variation in fruit colour is associated with contrasting seed disperser assemblages in a south-Andean mistletoe
GUILLERMO C. AMICO; MARIANO A. RODRIGUEZ CABAL; MARCELO A. AIZEN
WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC
Lugar: Londres; Año: 2011 vol. 34 p. 318 - 326
Fruit colour influences fruit choice by seed dispersers. The mistletoe Tristerix corymbosus (Loranthaceae) produces mature fruits of two different colours in two different biomes: yellow in the Chilean matorral and green in the temperate forest of southern South America. We conducted field surveys to establish the association between fruit colour and disperser identity throughout the entire geographical range of T. corymbosus. We selected 22 populations, eight of which were located in the Chilean matorral and 14 in the temperate forest south of the matorral. To identify the seed dispersers of the mistletoe we used direct observation, camera traps, and live-trapping of small mammals. We also report experiments to assess fruit selection by seed dispersers based on differences in colour. The assemblages of dispersers of T. corymbosus differ between the two biomes: yellow fruits in Chilean matorral are exclusively dispersed by three bird species while green fruits in the temperate forest are exclusively dispersed by a marsupial. The differences in the assemblages of seed dispersers can be explained by differences in food-finding strategies between the two assemblages. Green fruits in temperate forest are not easily detected by birds, while colour might not be an important cue for the marsupial because it is nocturnal and uses other senses to locate food. We propose that the association between the marsupial and the green-fruited mistletoe constitutes an ecological fitting rather than the outcome of a co-evolutionary process. The marsupial might have allowed the mistletoe T. corymbosus to retain green coloration in mature fruit, a condition to which it is preadapted by a slower ripening process in temperate forest populations.