Individual crop size increases predispersal predation by beetles in a tropical palm

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Bruno, Morgana Maria Arcanjo
Massi, Klécia Gili [UNESP]
Christianini, Alexander V.
Hay, John Du Vall

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Predispersal seed predation is one of the main causes of seed mortality in plant populations, contributing to decreased plant recruitment. Seed loss has previously been found to be related to crop size. Thus, we examined the influence of individual crop size on predispersal seed predation by beetles in the palm Syagrus flexuosa in the Brazilian savanna. The study was carried out in three tropical woodland savanna sites, where we sampled the total seed crop of 46 fruiting palms and checked the presence of beetle larvae inside all seeds per plant. We observed predispersal seed predation of S. flexuosa from all sites and a high variation in the number of seeds preyed on per individual palm. Crop size had a positive influence on the number of seeds lost to predispersal seed predators. Variations in levels of predispersal seed predation may also be accounted for by the reproductive phenology of S. flexuosa. If fruits are not available at the same time, less resource is available for predators and therefore a high proportion of seeds may be preyed on. Thus, our study demonstrates that an individual plant trait, crop size, is an important predictor of beetle seed damage per palm and a driver of the number of seeds lost to predispersal seed predators.



crop size, savanna, seed, Syagrus flexuosa

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Seed Science Research.