Evol Ecol Res 4: 623-626 (2002)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Scatter-hoarding of Cape Proteaceae nuts by rodents

Jeremy Midgley,* Bruce Anderson, Adele Bok and Trish Fleming

Department of Botany, University of Cape Town, P. Bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: midgleyj@botzoo.uct.ac.za


Most large-seeded shrubs and trees from Mediterranean shrublands are either serotinous (canopy stored seeds) or myrmecochorous (ant-buried). It has been hypothesized that these traits evolved to prevent access to the seeds by rodents. Here we present the first field evidence of a third guild, scatter-hoarding of nuts in the genus Leucadendron (Proteaceae) from the south-west Cape. The rodent concerned is Acomys subspinosus, a small (< 20 g) south-west Cape endemic murid. Seeds are typically buried singly, less than 2 cm deep and at distances of up to 5 m from seed depots. This finding has implications for the understanding of the evolution of myrmecochory and serotiny in shrublands. It extends the evolution of cached-nuts to a new family and is one of the first records of scatter-hoarding, outside of forests, in the southern hemisphere.

Keywords: Cape Mediterranean shrublands, myrmecochory, rodents, scatter-hoarding, seed dispersal, serotiny.

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