Biological Invasions (2020) 22, 1109-1120

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K.L. Molefe, M.J. Tedder, V. Thabethe, I. Rushworth and C.T. Downs (2020)
Role of native avian frugivores in germination facilitation and potential dispersal of invasive American bramble (Rubus cuneifolius) in South Africa
Biological Invasions 22 (3), 1109-1120
Abstract: Frugivorous birds are important in the dispersal of many fleshy-fruited plant species, including invasive plants. Consequently, we investigated three native frugivorous avian species' role in potential dispersal and germination success of the invasive American bramble (Rubus cuneifolius) in South Africa, particularly in terms of amount of fruit ingested, transit time, and their effects on seed germination. Three common species of frugivorous bird species were predicted to positively affect the spread of invasive R. cuneifolius. The bird species (speckled mousebirds Colius striatus, red-winged starlings Onychognathus morio and dark-capped bulbuls Pycnonotus tricolor) were fed R. cuneifolius fruit in captivity and amounts ingested were determined together with transit times. Seeds that were excreted and/or regurgitated by the three bird species, manually extracted seeds, and control whole fruit were then planted and their germination assessed daily. Although the three bird species varied in the amount of fruit consumed (~ 10–30 g), there was no significant difference in amount of R. cuneifolius fruit eaten per gram body mass among the species. Bird-ingested seeds emerged a mean 21–23 days after planting, while the seeds from the whole fruit took longer to emerge (mean 28 days). Germination of seeds ingested by the respective bird species was significantly higher (~ 60–75%) than seeds manually removed from fruits (~ 52%) or seeds in whole fruits (~ 7%). This suggests that removal of pulp and seed coat abrasion by the birds increased germination success. The three bird species all had R. cuneifolius seed transit times greater than 20 min, demonstrating their potential to disperse seeds a distance away from the parent plant. The results showed that the three bird species increased the germination success and suggests they are potentially important dispersers of the invasive R. cuneifolius.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Colleen T. Downs

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution
population dynamics/ epidemiology


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Rubus cuneifolius (weed) South Africa