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Evolution of Temperate Fruit/Bird Interactions: Phenological Strategies

John N. Thompson and Mary F. Willson
Evolution
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Sep., 1979), pp. 973-982
DOI: 10.2307/2407660
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407660
Page Count: 10
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Evolution of Temperate Fruit/Bird Interactions: Phenological Strategies
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Abstract

The fruiting phenology of mid-latitude plants with fleshy fruits appears to have been selected primarily by the seasonal patterns of avian frugivore availability and the probability of destruction of ripe fruit before dispersal. Three general phenological strategies are utilized by plants, each with what appears to be its own suite of adaptations. Most plants fruit at the peak of avian frugivore migration in the fall. These fruits tend to develop relatively synchronously within plants and within populations, although there is much variability between species. Species fruiting during the summer develop fruit asynchronously thereby minimizing exposure to invertebrates while providing fruits for the relatively low number of resident birds over a longer period of time. Winter fruiting species develop fruits after fall bird migrations and appear to rely on irregular movements of overwintering birds for dispersal. Weekly removal rates of fruits are faster for fall fruiting species than for summer and winter fruiting species. Both the summer and winter fruiting strategies should be more profitable at lower temperate latitudes because of the greater year-round availability of frugivores.

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