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Raptors as Seed Dispersers

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Birds of Prey

Abstract

Plants, unlike animals, are organisms with a sessile adult stage, and consequently they need external vectors for moving their propagules (mainly seeds) away from mother plants. The movement of seeds is a central process in the life cycle of plants called seed dispersal (Howe and Smallwood 1982). This process determines the spatial pattern of seed deposition, over which post-dispersal processes such as predation, germination, or seedling survival will act (Nathan and Muller-Landau 2000). Seed dispersal will therefore influence significantly the probability that a single seed becomes an adult individual of the plant population. The advantages of moving away from source plants are multiple. From a demographic point of view, seed dispersal enables to escape seeds to high mortality in the vicinity of maternal plants, where the probability of predation or pathogen infection increases exponentially (Janzen 1970; Connell 1971). In addition, dispersal facilitates the arrival of seeds to suitable microhabitats for germination and survival of seedlings, the colonization of new habitats, and the range expansion of plant populations (Howe and Smallwood 1982). From a genetic point of view, together with pollination, seed dispersal shapes patterns of gene flow within and among plant populations, influencing the characteristics and the cohesiveness of genetic pools at local and regional scales (Loveless and Hamrick 1984). Thus, as whole, seed dispersal will influence the demogenetic features of plant populations, conditioning the regeneration dynamics and the adaptability and resilience of plant populations in changing landscapes.

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Pérez-Méndez, N., Rodríguez, A. (2018). Raptors as Seed Dispersers. In: Sarasola, J., Grande, J., Negro, J. (eds) Birds of Prey. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73745-4_6

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