Conservation of endangered habitats of South Pacific islands is partially dependent on activity of seed dispersers. In consuming fruits, animals can spread seeds from parent plants to distant sites, thus contributing to plant regeneration and colonization of new sites. In the dry forests of New Caledonia, the red-bellied fruit-dove, Ptilinopus greyii, is a potential disperser of many fleshyfruited species. Trials with a captive bird showed that gut passage enhanced seed germination for Diospyros fasciculosa and Mimusops elengi but not for Vitex cf. collina, compared with whole fruits. Gut passage did not shorten duration of seed dormancy, which is consistent with evidence of a simple deinhibition effect for D. fasciculosa and M. elengi. Minimum Retention Time (MRT) of seeds in the gut differed significantly between the three tree species, from a mean of 17.4 min for D. fasciculosa to a mean of 52.4 min for M. elengi. These times are longer than observed foraging times in fruiting trees, potentially making this fruit-dove an effective seed disperser.
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Vol. 64 • No. 4