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Ilex Canariensis Poir. (Aquifoliaceae) Post-dispersal Seed Predation in the Canary Islands

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Alien species have many negative effects on insular ecosystems worldwide. We investigated Ilex canariensis post-dispersal seed predation by introduced rats (Rattus spp.) in relict forests of the Canary Islands at different spatial scales: among microhabitats within the same forest, among forest types within the same island, and among different islands of the archipelago. Seed predation intensity was very high (>70%) in all cases considered, irrespective of the spatial scale. We did not find significant differences between forest interior, edges or gaps, as well as between different forest types in four islands of the archipelago. Comparatively low predation intensity was found in El Hierro island, where more than 50% of the seeds survived at the end of the experiment, while highest seed predation was observed in Tenerife island. It is concluded that post-dispersal seed predation by rats, due to its extent and intensity, could have an important effect on Ilex canariensis recruitment, especially in successional areas where this light tolerant tree can naturally establish.

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All the staff at Garajonay National Park, and especially Jacinto Leralta and Ángel B. Fernández López (Director of Garajonay National Park), provided great help and wise comments during fieldwork. José Guitián kindly revised early versions of the manuscript. KC Burns and an anonymous reviewer made valuable suggestions. MS stay at the Canary Islands was funded by a predoctoral grant (AP97-33299901) from the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Cultura.

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Correspondence to Miguel Salvande.

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Salvande, M., Mulet, M. & Gómez González, L.A. Ilex Canariensis Poir. (Aquifoliaceae) Post-dispersal Seed Predation in the Canary Islands. Plant Ecol 187, 143 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-006-9139-y

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  • Insular ecosystem
  • Laurel forest
  • Post-dispersal seed predation
  • Rats