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The Effects of Emus (Dromaius Novaehollandiae Latham) on the Distribution of the Nitre Bush (Nitraria Billardieri DC.)

James C. Noble
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Nov., 1975), pp. 979-984
DOI: 10.2307/2258615
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2258615
Page Count: 6
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The Effects of Emus (Dromaius Novaehollandiae Latham) on the Distribution of the Nitre Bush (Nitraria Billardieri DC.)
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Abstract

The ripening fruit of nitre bush (Nitraria billardieri) is eaten in great quantities by emus. The seed is highly resistant to digestion. Germination increases considerably following ingestion; 67% of emu-ingested seed germinated after twenty-four days but only 17% of hand-collected seed. Germination of emu-ingested seed was also much quicker (50% vs. 3% in four days). Emus apparently facilitate germination by removal of the salt-rich pericarp; mammals are much less effective. Emus may play an integral role in the successful establishment of nitre bush where heavy clay soils are dominant and seed is rarely buried. Where nitre bush occurs on light textured soils, seed germinates readily without prior avian ingestion, provided it has first been covered by wind-blown sand.

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