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Oecologia. 2004 Sep;141(1):94-104. Epub 2004 Jul 24.

A comparison of morphological and chemical fruit traits between two sites with different frugivore assemblages.

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  • 1Institut für Zoologie, Abt. Okologie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Becherweg 13, 55099 Mainz, Germany.


Large-scale comparisons might reveal matching between fruit traits and frugivore assemblages that might be cryptic on a local scale. Therefore, we compared morphological (colour, size, husk thickness) and chemical fruit traits (protein, nitrogen, sugar, lipid, tannin and fibre content) between Malagasy and South African tree communities with different frugivore communities. In Madagascar, where lemurs are important seed dispersers, we found more tree species with fruit colour classified as "primate fruits". In contrast, in South Africa we found more tree species with fruits classified as "bird coloured". This correlated with the greater importance of frugivorous birds in South Africa vs. Madagascar. Additionally, we found higher sugar concentrations in fruits from the South African tree community and higher fibre content in fruits from the Malagasy tree community. However, fibre content could be related to differences in abiotic conditions between the two study sites. This suggests that fruit colour more than other morphological and chemical fruit traits, reflects food selection by the different frugivore assemblages of those two sites.

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