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Gulls (Laridae) as frugivores and seed dispersers


Many gull species (Laridae) are opportunistic feeders with diverse diets. Seeds and fruits are common in gull diets, often in small proportions but sometimes dominant in certain periods and areas. Moreover, the large body sizes and high population densities of gulls increase their ecological importance. Hence, they can be significant seed dispersers even with relatively few seeds in diets. Gulls are highly mobile and have long gut-retention times, thus may provide long-distance dispersal for plants. Most information of the potential role of gulls as seed dispersers is from dietary studies, not focused on plant–animal interactions, thus the role of gulls on plant population dynamics is little known. Nevertheless, gulls have been shown to be effective dispersers of some coastal plants, and vectors for plant movement to and between islands. Here, I review this topic and hope to stimulate more research into the role of gulls as seed dispersers, particularly in coastal and island habitats.

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I thank Manuel Nogales, Aarón González Castro, and, especially, Guillermo Velo-Antón for sending me articles that were difficult to obtain. I am also grateful to many authors who kindly answered my questions on details on their studies. I also thank Kevin Burns, Philip Ladd, and two anonymous referees for their comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Maria Calvino-Cancela.

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Calvino-Cancela, M. Gulls (Laridae) as frugivores and seed dispersers. Plant Ecol 212, 1149–1157 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-011-9894-2

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  • Frugivory
  • Island biogeography
  • Larus
  • Seed dispersal