Who disperses the (megafaunal) fruit? Predicting frugivore-megafruit interactions in tropical Asia.


Megafaunal fruits or “megafruits” are very large fruits that are considered to have evolved for seed dispersal by the largest fruit-consumers that have ever existed. While megafauna, such as elephants and rhinos, are proven to be effective dispersers of these fruits, they appear to not always be essential. This is signified by the persistence of megafruits in regions that have lacked megafauna for thousands of years, or have never had megafauna. Indeed, non-megafauna can also disperse the seeds of megafruits, highlighting the potential role of the entire biotic community in influencing megafruit evolution. Megafruits show considerable variability in fruit and seed traits, and therefore differ in the likelihood that non-megafauna, or even abiotic processes, can disperse them effectively. In this talk, I will explore the traits of megafruits that influence the likelihood of dispersal by megafauna and a suite of non-megafaunal animals in tropical Asia. Using a database of 496 megafruits from the region, I will present preliminary predictions on how many of these fruits might be dispersed regularly by non-megafauna, and those that could be especially at threat from the range reductions of megafauna. In the late Pleistocene, tropical Asia was occupied by at least 20 megafaunal species, but only 40% of species remain extant with only elephants maintaining relatively widespread distributions. Understanding the potential implications of these declines on the myriad ecological roles they played – including seed dispersal – is important for supporting the conservation of tropical forests.

Speaker: Dr. Kim McConkey

Affiliation: University of Nottingham Malaysia

Time: 4:30 PM, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022

Venue: ZOOM 会议平台 会议 ID:312 430 8960 会议密码 PWD:666666 

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会议 ID:312 430 8960
会议密码 PWD:666666
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