Clustering of fertile seeds in infructescences of serotinous Protea species: An anti-predation mechanism?

Mustart, P.J.; Cowling, R.M.; Wright, M.G.

African Journal of Ecology 33(3): 224-229

1995


ISSN/ISBN: 0141-6707
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.1995.tb00799.x
Accession: 008337197

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Abstract
Low seed-set of South African Proteaceae was investigated as a granivore evasion strategy. Only a slight decrease in fertile:non-fertile seed ratios with increasing levels of granivory was found, indicating that insects feed non-selectively. There was also a highly significant clustering of fertile seeds on the receptacles of both bird- and rodent-pollinated Protea species, suggesting that clustering could be plant determined. The idea that fertile seed clustering had been selected as a granivore-evasion strategy was investigated by testing the hypothesis that strongly serotinous species would have a greater degree of clustering than weakly serotinous species. The hypothesis was not supported because all species tested showed similar, highly significant clustering regardless of degree of serotiny. Further investigations are needed to show whether small clusters of fertile seeds scattered amongst non-fertile seeds are protected from granivory, and thus whether low, clustered seed set has been selected for low-cost granivore-evasion.

Clustering of fertile seeds in infructescences of serotinous Protea species: An anti-predation mechanism?