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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CHEMISTRY AND BIOCHEMISTRY OF INSECT BEHAVIOR, PHYSIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY

Location: Chemistry Research Unit

Title: Dispersers shape fruit diversity in Ficus (Moraceae)

Authors
item Lomascolo, Silvia -
item Levey, Douglas -
item Kimball, Rebecca -
item Bolker, Benjamin -
item Alborn, Hans

Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 24, 2010
Publication Date: August 17, 2010
Repository URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/33/14668.full.pdf+html?sid=747518e6-3d6f-4ed6-9d23-794f13815a5d
Citation: Lomascolo, S.B., Levey, D.J., Kimball, R.T., Bolker, B.M., Alborn, H.T. 2010. Dispersers shape fruit diversity in Ficus (Moraceae). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107(33):14668-14672.

Interpretive Summary: Seed dispersal by vertebrates is a common and important form of plant-animal mutualisms, involving an enormous diversity of fruiting plants and frugivorous vertebrates. Despite that, little is understood about co-occurring traits in fruits with differences in behavior, perceptive capacity and morphology of fruit-eating vertebrates, making the origin and maintenance of fruit diversity largely unexplained. Using a multivariate phylogenetic comparative test with unbiased estimates of odor and color Scientist at the University of Florida and USDA ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville FL demonstrate for the first time that fruit traits evolve in concert and as predicted by differences in the behavior, perceptive capacity and morphology of their frugivorous seed dispersers. These results demonstrate that differences among frugivores have shaped the evolution of fruit traits. Our results underscore the importance of mutualisms both in generating and in maintaining biodiversity.

Technical Abstract: Seed dispersal by vertebrates is one of the most common and important plant-animal mutualisms, involving an enormous diversity of fruiting plants and frugivorous vertebrates. Even though plant reproduction largely depends on seed dispersal, evolutionary ecologists have been unable to link co-occurring traits in fruits with differences in behavior, perceptive capacity and morphology of fruit-eating vertebrates. Hence, the origin and maintenance of fruit diversity remains largely unexplained. Using a multivariate phylogenetic comparative test with unbiased estimates of odor and color, we demonstrate for the first time that fruit traits evolve in concert and as predicted by differences in the behavior, perceptive capacity and morphology of their frugivorous seed dispersers. Observations at fruiting trees independently confirmed that differences in fig traits predict differences in dispersers. Taken together, these results demonstrate that differences among frugivores have shaped the evolution of fruit traits. More broadly, our results underscore the importance of mutualisms both in generating and in maintaining biodiversity.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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