Disturbance and the Dispersal of Fleshy Fruits

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Science  09 Jun 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4346, pp. 1161-1163
DOI: 10.1126/science.200.4346.1161


Fruits of Prunus serotina, Phytolacca americana, and Vitis vulpina were placed during separate trials in forest sites that varied in the degree to which the forest canopy was disturbed. Removal rates of fruits were consistently faster in the forest edge and light gap sites than in sites under closed canopy. Rapid removal of fruits from species that ripen fruit in summer and early fall is selectively advantageous to the plants because it minimizes the probability that fruits will be destroyed by invertebrates before dispersal. Disturbances probably play an important role in interactions between temperate fruits and birds and in community organization.