Horizontal seed dispersal by dung beetles reduced seed and seedling clumping, but did not increase short-term seedling establishment

Autoři: Lina Adonay Urrea-Galeano aff001;  Ellen Andresen aff001;  Rosamond Coates aff003;  Francisco Mora Ardila aff001;  Alfonso Díaz Rojas aff004;  Gabriel Ramos-Fernández aff005
Působiště autorů: Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico aff001;  Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico aff002;  Estación de Biología Tropical Los Tuxtlas, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Veracruz, Mexico aff003;  Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico aff004;  Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico aff005
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224366


Dung beetles are secondary seed dispersers, incidentally moving many of the seeds defecated by mammals vertically (seed burial) and/or horizontally as they process and relocate dung. Although several studies have quantified this ecological function of dung beetles, very few have followed seed fate until seedling establishment, and most of these have focused on the effects of seed burial. We know very little about the effects of horizontal seed movement by dung beetles, though it is generally assumed that it will affect plant recruitment positively through diminishing seed clumping. The objective of our study was to assess the effects of dung beetle activity on the spatial distribution of seeds and seedlings, and on the probability of seedling establishment. In a tropical rainforest in Mexico we carried out two complementary field experiments for each of two tree species (Bursera simaruba and Poulsenia armata), using seeds experimentally imbedded in pig dung and recording their fate and spatial location over time. For both species, dung beetle activity reduced the spatial clumping of seeds and seedlings; however, it did not increase the probability of seedling establishment. We discuss the context- and species-specificity of the combined effects of horizontal and vertical dispersal of seeds by dung beetles, and the need to quantify long-term seedling fates to more accurately determine the effects of seed movement by dung beetles on plant recruitment.

Klíčová slova:

Beetles – Mammals – Metadata – Plants – Seed germination – Seedlings – Seeds – Dung beetles


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