, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 30–34

Cold temperature increases winter fruit removal rate of a bird-dispersed shrub

  • Charles Kwit
  • Douglas J. Levey
  • Cathryn H. Greenberg
  • Scott F. Pearson
  • John P. McCarty
  • Sarah Sargent
Plant Animal Interactions


We tested the hypothesis that winter removal rates of fruits of wax myrtle, Myrica cerifera, are higher in colder winters. Over a 9-year period, we monitored M. cerifera fruit crops in 13 0.1-ha study plots in South Carolina, U.S.A. Peak ripeness occurred in November, whereas peak removal occurred in the coldest months, December and January. Mean time to fruit removal within study plots was positively correlated with mean winter temperatures, thereby supporting our hypothesis. This result, combined with the generally low availability of winter arthropods, suggests that fruit abundance may play a role in determining winter survivorship and distribution of permanent resident and short-distance migrant birds. From the plant’s perspective, it demonstrates inter-annual variation in the temporal component of seed dispersal, with possible consequences for post-dispersal seed and seedling ecology.


Avian seed dispersal Frugivory Seed predation Winter food Yellow-rumped warbler. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Kwit
    • 1
    • 3
  • Douglas J. Levey
    • 1
  • Cathryn H. Greenberg
    • 2
  • Scott F. Pearson
    • 1
    • 4
  • John P. McCarty
    • 1
    • 5
  • Sarah Sargent
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Southern Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceAshevilleUSA
  3. 3.Savannah River Ecology LaboratoryAikenUSA
  4. 4.Washington Natural Areas ProgramWashington Department of Natural ResourcesOlympiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA
  6. 6.Department of BiologyAllegheny CollegeMeadvilleUSA

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