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Ficus natalensis facilitates the establishment of a montane rain-forest tree in south-east African tropical woodlands

  • Tomohiro Fujita (a1)

Abstract:

Nucleation, leading to the formation of tropical forest patches in open areas, has occurred in many parts of the world. This study examined the role of Ficus natalensis as a nucleus and estimated seed dispersers in the nucleation process. Seed rain and post-dispersal fate of Syzygium guineense ssp. afromontanum (a common forest tree species) under eight F. natalensis crowns were compared with those in other woodland microsites. In addition, focal observations of frugivore were conducted at F. natalensis in the woodlands and S. guineense ssp. afromontanum in the forest, when both species were fruiting. Most dispersed seeds (85%) were found under F. natalensis, and the number of dispersed seeds was significantly greater under F. natalensis than at other microsites. Germination (n = 600) and survival percentages (n = 384) were greater under F. natalensis compared with those in treeless open microsites. These results suggest that F. natalensis act as efficient nuclei in nucleation process. Results of focal observations at S. guineense ssp. afromontanum (100 h) showed that Schalow's turaco consumed 63% of fruit and swallowed all pecked fruit. Schalow's turaco also visited fruiting F. natalensis frequently (0.4 h−1) during 80 h of observations, indicating that Schalow's turaco is an important seed disperser during nucleation.

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Corresponding author

1Correspondence address: 46 Shimoadachi-cho, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606–8501. Japan. Email: tfujita0727@gmail.com

References

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