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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


LINK, ANDRÉS  and  STEVENSON, PABLO R. Fruit dispersal syndromes in animal disseminated plants at Tinigua National Park, Colombia. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2004, vol.77, n.2, pp.319-334. ISSN 0716-078X.

Fruit dispersal syndromes (groups of plants with similar fruit morphology, presumably adapted to dispersal by a particular set of vectors) have been described in a variety of tropical localities. In some cases the presence of different syndromes in each locality suggests independent evolution of fruit traits in response to selective pressures imposed by the particular animal community in each place. However, it is still unclear how general are fruit syndromes, and this is important to understand the evolution of mutualistic relationships. We compiled morphological information from about 500 fleshy fruited species at a lowland Neotropical forest in Tinigua National Park, Colombia, in an effort to test for the existence of fruit dispersal syndromes. We found that about two thirds of the plant genera analyzed could be classified in two different fruit types (large, protected, dull colored fruits, small, unprotected, bright colored fruits). These two syndromes correspond to the mammal and bird dispersal syndromes originally described at Cocha Cashu Biological Station, PeruPeruú. Two years of field observations on several fruiting plants revealed close associations between these fruit syndromes and the presumed animal dispersal vector. Our results support the idea that fruit dispersal syndromes are more general in Neotropical forests than previously inferred. However, we caution that similar syndromes found at Cocha Cashu and Tinigua may be a consequence of the floristic resemblance of both regions, and may not necessarily imply an independent case for the evolution of mammal and bird dispersal syndromes. Therefore, additional studies of fruit syndromes and biogeographical analyses would be necessary to assess how general are dispersal syndromes in the Neotropics

Keywords : fruit syndromes; fruit morphology; Neotropical forests; convergent evolution; frugivory.

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