Seed Dispersal by Weta

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Science  17 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5767, pp. 1575
DOI: 10.1126/science.1123544

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Weta are giant, flightless grasshoppers that are endemic to New Zealand. In the absence of native mammals, weta are thought to perform similar ecological functions. As such, they might be expected to be important seeds dispersers. However, insects are not known to consume fleshy fruits and to disperse seeds after gut passage. We conducted a series of observations and experiments to test whether weta form mutualistic partnerships with fleshy-fruited plants as seed dispersers, similar to small mammals elsewhere in the world. Results showed that weta are indeed effective seeds dispersers, providing an example of ecological convergence between unrelated organisms.

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