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Highly mobile seed predators contribute to interisland seed dispersal within an oceanic archipelago

Citation

Ando, Haruko et al. (2021), Highly mobile seed predators contribute to interisland seed dispersal within an oceanic archipelago, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9kd51c5fd

Abstract

Long-distance dispersal (LDD) is an essential event for species colonization and expansion in oceanic island ecosystems. Endozoochory by birds is an important factor promoting the LDD of plant seeds, but its contribution to interisland seed dispersal is still unclear. Here, we show possible seed dispersal by a seed predator pigeon, the Japanese wood pigeon Columba janthina, among oceanic islands in the Izu archipelago, Japan. Although some previous studies showed that most seeds swallowed by this pigeon are crushed, intact seeds were found in 44.5% of pigeon feces, indicating the contribution of these birds to seed dispersal. Seasonal population fluctuations and movements by pigeons between neighbouring islands which are 4 km apart by pigeons can promote interisland seed dispersal. We found seeds from fruiting trees not located on the islands where the pigeon feces were collected, which could have been transported from another island. Although many tree species overlap their fruiting phenology with pigeon movement between islands, the seeds of only six species were dispersed by pigeons, and most of the dispersed seeds were from species with small seeds less than 1.5 mm in diameter. Seed consumption and frequent interisland movement of Japanese wood pigeons might homogenize the distribution of plants with small seeds among neighboring islands. In contrast, their intensive seed consumption might disturb the recruitment of plants with large seeds and make their expansion to other islands difficult. Such effects of mutualistic (dispersal) and antagonistic (predation) interactions with highly mobile seed predators may modify plant distributions and gene flow in oceanic archipelagos.