Scatter-hoarding birds disperse seeds to sites unfavorable for plant regenerationSorensen, Marjorie C.; Mueller, Thomas; Donoso, Isabel; Graf, Valentin; Merges, Dominik; Vanoni, Marco; Fiedler, Wolfgang; Neuschulz, Eike Lena;
Scatter-hoarding birds provide effective long-distance seed dispersal for plants. Transporting seeds far promotes population spread, colonization of new areas, and connectivity between populations. However, whether seeds transported over long distances are deposited in habitats favorable to plant regeneration has rarely been investigated, mainly due to methodological constraints. To investigate dispersal patterns and distances of Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra) seeds we utilized advances in tracking technology to track the movements of their sole disperser, the spotted nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes). We found routine individual movements between single seed harvesting and seed caching site. Harvesting sites of individual birds overlapped, whereas seed caching sites were separated and located on average 5.3 km away from the harvesting site. Interestingly, most distant caching sites were located at low elevations and in spruce forest, where Swiss stone pine does not naturally occur. This suggests that nutcrackers disperse seeds over long distances but that a large portion of these seeds are cached outside the known pine habitat. Therefore, we conclude that the implications of such long-distance seed dispersal movements for plant populations should be carefully considered in combination with the effects of habitat quality on plant recruitment.
Spotted nutcrackers; GPS tracking; Seed dispersal; Ecosystem services; Nucifraga caryocatactes; Pinus cembra
Published inMovement Ecology 2022, volume: 10, article number: 38
UKÄ Subject classification
URI (permanent link to this page)