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Data from: Dispersal of fungi spores by non-specialized flower-visiting birds


da Silva, Luis P. et al. (2015), Data from: Dispersal of fungi spores by non-specialized flower-visiting birds, Dryad, Dataset,


Birds are important biotic dispersers of a wide range of propagules. Fungi spores are mainly dispersed by wind. Nevertheless there are several animals known to disperse fungi spores, which might be particularly important if spores are delivered to particularly favourable sites i.e. directed dispersal. This may be especially important for fungi that require specific microsites such as flowers. We sampled birds for the presence of fungi spores and pollen grains during one year at two forest sites in central Portugal. We found that out of the 894 birds sampled, 131 individuals from 11 species carried spores from at least 6 morphological types, mainly during winter. The great majority of birds found to carry fungi spores was also found to carry pollen grains, suggesting that they were feeding on flowers which are the main origin of the spores. This co-dispersion of pollen and fungi spores suggest that the latter are not randomly dispersed on the environment, but are likely to have an increased probability of being deposited on flowers propitious to fungi development. Our results suggest that directed dispersal of fungi by flower-visiting birds might by a common and under-appreciated phenomenon with potentially important ecological, biogeographic and even economic outcomes.

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