A wide variety of plants, ranging in size from forest floor herbs to giant canopy trees, rely on animals to disperse their seeds. Typical values of the proportion of tropical vascular plants that produce fleshy fruits and have animal-dispersed seeds range from 50-90%, depending on habitat. In this section, the authors discuss this mutualism from the plant's perspective. Herrera begins by challenging the notion that plant traits traditionally interpreted as being the product of fruit-frugivore coevolution really are the outcome of a response-counter-response kind of evolutionary process. He uses examples of congeneric plants living in very different biotic and abiotic environments and whose fossilizable characteristics have not changed over long periods of time to argue that there exists little or no basis for assuming that gradualistic change and environmental tracking characterizes the interactions between plants and their vertebrate seed dispersers. A common theme that runs through Frugivores and Seed Dispersals by Herrera, Denslow et at. , and Stiles and White is the importance of the 'fruiting environment' (i. e. the spatial relationships of conspecific and non-conspecific fruiting plants) on rates of fruit removal and patterns of seed rain. Herrera and Denslow et at. point out that this environment is largely outside the control of individual plant species and, as a result, closely coevolved interactions between vertebrates and plants are unlikely to evolve.
1: Plant strategies
1. Vertebrate-dispersed plants: why they don't behave the way they should
2. A seven-year study of individual variation in fruit production in tropical bird-dispersed tree species in the family Lauraceae
3.Spatial components of fruit display in understory trees and shrubs
4.Seed deposition patterns: influences of season, nutrients, and vegetation structure
5. Foliar 'flags' for avian frugivores: signal or serendipity?
6. Dispersal of seeds by animals: effect on lightcontrolled dormancy in Cecropia obtusifolia
2: Frugivore strategies
7. Selection on plant fruiting traits by brown capuchin monkeys: a multivariate approach
8. Frugivory in howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata) at Los Tuxtlas, Mexico: dispersal and fate of seeds
9. Opportunism versus specialization: the evolution of feeding strategies in frugivorous bats
10. Inter-relations between frugivorous vertebrates and pioneer plants: Cecropia, birds and bats in French Guyana
11. The influence of morphology on fruit choice in neotropical birds
12. Methods of seed processing by birds and seed deposition patterns
13. Some aspects of avian frugivory in a north temperate area relevant to tropical forest
3: The consequences of seed dispersal
14. Seed dispersal and environmental heterogeneity in a neotropical herb: a model of population and patch dynamics
15. Consequences of seed dispersal for gap-dependent plants: relationships between seed shadows, germination requirements, and forest dynamic processes
16. Seed dispersal mutualism and the population density of Asarum canadense, an ant-dispersed plant
17. The influence of seed dispersal mechanisms on the genetic structure of plant populations
18. Seed dispersal by birds and squirrels in the deciduous forests of the United States
19. Seed shadows, seed predation and the advantages of dispersal
20. Mice, big mammals, and seeds: it matters who defecates what where
21. Seed predation and dispersal in a dominant desert plant: Opuntia, ants, birds, and mammals
22. Agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata), the inheritors of guapinol (Hymenaea courbaril: Leguminosae)
4: Community aspects of frugivory and seed dispersal
23. Relationships between dispersal syndrome and characteristics of populations of trees in a subtropical forest
24. Seed dispersal, gap colonization, and the case of Cecropia insignis
25. Seed dispersal, gap dynamics and tree recruitment: the case of Cecropia obtusifolia at Los Tuxtlas, Mexico
26. Constraints on the timing of seed germination in a tropical forest
27. Dispersal and the sequential plant communities in Amazonian Peru floodplain
28. Community aspects of frugivory in tropical forests
"This book is a must for every seed dispersal ecologist, and is, therefore, higly recommended."
- S. Godschalk, South American Journal on Zoology, 1989.
"[...] this book is a valuable source of information and methodological approaches for all students who are and will be attracted by this field of modern ecology."
- L. Klimes, Folia Geobotanica et Phytotaxonomica, Vol. 24, 1989.