Evol Ecol Res 7: 1067-1076 (2005)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Does mimicry occur between fleshy-fruits?

K.C. Burns*

Bamfield Marine Science Centre, 1 Pachina Drive, Bamfield, BC V0R 1B0, Canada

Address all correspondence to K.C. Burns, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand.
e-mail: kevin.burns@vuw.ac.nz


Goal: Test for mimicry in two bird-dispersed fruit species.

Site: British Columbia, Canada

Species: Rubus parviflorus Pursh and R. spectabilis Nutt.

Background: Rubus parviflorus produces red fruits, while R. spectabilis produces both red and orange fruits. The two colour forms of R. spectabilis are otherwise similar, but birds prefer the red form. Both Rubus species are dispersed by the same frugivores, co-occur in close proximity, and have overlapping fruit phenologies, but birds prefer R. parviflorus fruits over R. spectabilis fruits.

Experiment: I conducted a field experiment to test whether avian preferences for red R. spectabilis fruits are associated with their closer similarity to R. parviflorus fruits. Red and orange fruits of R. spectabilis were displayed in close proximity to R. parviflorus fruits, or close to R. spectabilis fruits. The latter served as a control.

Results: The red form of R. spectabilis was removed more rapidly than the orange form when displayed close to R. parviflorus fruits. The difference disappeared in the control treatment.

Conclusions: Birds appear to mistake the red form of R. spectabilis for R. parviflorus fruits when they are displayed close together.

Keywords: birds, fleshy-fruits, frugivore, fruit colour, mutualism, seed dispersal.

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