Mistletoe specialist frugivores

latterday 'Johnny Appleseeds' or self-serving market gardeners?

David Watson, John Rawsthorne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Many plants use birds to disperse their propagules, but mistletoes are especially reliant on their services. As aerial parasites, mistletoe seeds need to be deposited upon branches of suitable hosts, and mistletoe specialist frugivores (from eight different avian families) have long been regarded as their coevolved dispersers. Like the pioneer Johnny 'Appleseed' Chapman who established nurseries that helped open up land for settlement, these birds are considered benevolent dispersers of this keystone resource and often invoked as illustrative examples of mutualistic interactions. We have compared recent research on these specialists with studies of other birds with broader diets (generalists) which also disperse mistletoe seed. Rather than mutualists, we suggest that mistletoe specialist frugivores are better considered exploitative, with multiple lineages evolving independently to capitalize on this reliable, nutritious resource. Although mistletoe specialist frugivores are quantitatively important seed dispersers in some regions, their specialized diet restricts them to areas with high mistletoe densities, resulting in contagious dispersal patterns. By intensifying existing infections, mistletoe specialist frugivores increase their own medium-term food security-akin to market gardeners profiting from intensive cultivation. Exploring the ecological and evolutionary implications of this proposition, we evaluate the consequences of different dispersal patterns on mistletoe fitness and highlight the neglected role of dietary generalists in the stabilization of plant-animal interactions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)925-932
    Number of pages8
    JournalOecologia
    Volume172
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

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    Santalales
    gardeners
    frugivores
    markets
    market
    bird
    seed
    generalist
    diet
    resource
    food security
    birds
    seeds
    parasite
    stabilization
    fitness
    animal

    Cite this

    Watson, David ; Rawsthorne, John. / Mistletoe specialist frugivores : latterday 'Johnny Appleseeds' or self-serving market gardeners?. In: Oecologia. 2013 ; Vol. 172, No. 4. pp. 925-932.
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    title = "Mistletoe specialist frugivores: latterday 'Johnny Appleseeds' or self-serving market gardeners?",
    abstract = "Many plants use birds to disperse their propagules, but mistletoes are especially reliant on their services. As aerial parasites, mistletoe seeds need to be deposited upon branches of suitable hosts, and mistletoe specialist frugivores (from eight different avian families) have long been regarded as their coevolved dispersers. Like the pioneer Johnny 'Appleseed' Chapman who established nurseries that helped open up land for settlement, these birds are considered benevolent dispersers of this keystone resource and often invoked as illustrative examples of mutualistic interactions. We have compared recent research on these specialists with studies of other birds with broader diets (generalists) which also disperse mistletoe seed. Rather than mutualists, we suggest that mistletoe specialist frugivores are better considered exploitative, with multiple lineages evolving independently to capitalize on this reliable, nutritious resource. Although mistletoe specialist frugivores are quantitatively important seed dispersers in some regions, their specialized diet restricts them to areas with high mistletoe densities, resulting in contagious dispersal patterns. By intensifying existing infections, mistletoe specialist frugivores increase their own medium-term food security-akin to market gardeners profiting from intensive cultivation. Exploring the ecological and evolutionary implications of this proposition, we evaluate the consequences of different dispersal patterns on mistletoe fitness and highlight the neglected role of dietary generalists in the stabilization of plant-animal interactions.",
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    Mistletoe specialist frugivores : latterday 'Johnny Appleseeds' or self-serving market gardeners? / Watson, David; Rawsthorne, John.

    In: Oecologia, Vol. 172, No. 4, 08.2013, p. 925-932.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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    T1 - Mistletoe specialist frugivores

    T2 - latterday 'Johnny Appleseeds' or self-serving market gardeners?

    AU - Watson, David

    AU - Rawsthorne, John

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    AB - Many plants use birds to disperse their propagules, but mistletoes are especially reliant on their services. As aerial parasites, mistletoe seeds need to be deposited upon branches of suitable hosts, and mistletoe specialist frugivores (from eight different avian families) have long been regarded as their coevolved dispersers. Like the pioneer Johnny 'Appleseed' Chapman who established nurseries that helped open up land for settlement, these birds are considered benevolent dispersers of this keystone resource and often invoked as illustrative examples of mutualistic interactions. We have compared recent research on these specialists with studies of other birds with broader diets (generalists) which also disperse mistletoe seed. Rather than mutualists, we suggest that mistletoe specialist frugivores are better considered exploitative, with multiple lineages evolving independently to capitalize on this reliable, nutritious resource. Although mistletoe specialist frugivores are quantitatively important seed dispersers in some regions, their specialized diet restricts them to areas with high mistletoe densities, resulting in contagious dispersal patterns. By intensifying existing infections, mistletoe specialist frugivores increase their own medium-term food security-akin to market gardeners profiting from intensive cultivation. Exploring the ecological and evolutionary implications of this proposition, we evaluate the consequences of different dispersal patterns on mistletoe fitness and highlight the neglected role of dietary generalists in the stabilization of plant-animal interactions.

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    KW - plant community

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    KW - review

    KW - seed dispersal

    KW - South and Central America

    KW - Viscum album

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    KW - Latin America

    KW - Mistletoe

    KW - Seed Dispersal

    U2 - 10.1007/s00442-013-2693-9

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    SN - 0029-8549

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