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Red fox (Vulpes vulpes L.) favour seed dispersal, germination and seedling survival of Mediterranean hackberry (Celtis australis L.)

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes L.) favour seed dispersal, germination and seedling survival of Mediterranean hackberry (Celtis australis L.)

Acta Oecologica. July-August; 301: 39-45

Seeds of the Mediterranean Hackberry Celtis australis are often encountered in fox faeces. In order to evaluate the effect of gut transit on the size of seeds selected, the rates and speed of germination and on the survival of the seedlings, Mediterranean Hackberry seeds from fox faeces were germinated in a greenhouse. The results were compared with those of seeds taken from ripe, uneaten fruits. Fox-dispersed seeds were smaller and lighter than the control ones and had higher (74% vs. 57%) and more rapid germination (74.5 days vs. 99.2 days). Seedlings from fox-dispersed seeds showed significantly greater survival by the end of the study period (74.1% vs. 43.6%) than the control ones. Survival in seedlings from fox-dispersed seeds was related to germination date, late seedlings showing poorer survival. This relationship was not observed away in the control seedlings. Seed mass did not affect seedling survival. Seedling arising from fox-dispersed seeds grew faster than control ones. These results suggest that fox can play a relevant role as seed disperser of Mediterranean Hackberry.

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Accession: 023479553

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DOI: 10.1016/j.actao.2006.01.004

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