, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 717-727
Date: 13 Sep 2007

Impact of avian frugivores on dispersal and recruitment of the invasive Prunus serotina in an agricultural landscape

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Abstract

Although seed dispersal is considered to be a key process determining the spatial structure and spread of non-native plant populations, few studies have explicitly addressed the link between dispersal vector behaviour, seed distribution and seedling recruitment to gain insight into the process of exotic species invasion within a fragmented landscape context. The present study analyses the relationship between avian frugivory and spatial patterns of seed deposition and seedling recruitment for an expanding population of the invasive Prunus serotina in a hedgerow network landscape in Flanders, Belgium. We quantified fruit production, observed frugivores, and determined the spatial distribution of bird droppings and P. serotina seedlings. A relatively diverse assemblage of frugivores visited P. serotina seed trees, with Columba palumbus and Turdus merula being by far the most important dispersers. Landscape structure strongly affected dispersal vector behaviour and the spatial distribution of perching birds, droppings and seedlings. Frugivorous birds non-randomly dispersed seeds to perching sites and an association between perching birds, seed deposition and seedling recruitment was found. Results indicate that landscape structure contributes to non-random seed deposition of P. serotina by common local frugivores. Cutting the larger seed trees is proposed as the most feasible measure to slow down the invasion rate.