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Do birds bias measurements of seed rain?

  • J. Leighton Reid (a1), Karisa N. Katsuki (a1) and Karen D. Holl (a1)


Accurate measurements of seed rain are important for understanding tree reproduction (Greene & Johnson 1994), forest regeneration (Cole et al. 2010, Cubiña & Aide 2001, Howe et al. 2010, Zahawi & Augspurger 2006), forest ecology (Muller-Landau et al. 2008, Terborgh et al. 2011) and maintenance of community diversity (Harms et al. 2000). Seed traps generally consist of a bucket or net of a fixed area suspended 0.3–1 m above the ground, and seeds are typically collected once or twice per month. An implicit assumption of all seed-rain studies is that traps do not influence seed dispersal. Should birds perch on and defecate seeds into seed traps, seed abundance will be overestimated. This behaviour could produce a directional bias if birds perch on seed traps in one habitat more than others. To our knowledge, no study has considered this potential bias.


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