Implications of movement patterns of a dietary generalist for mistletoe seed dispersal

John Rawsthorne, David Watson, David Roshier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract Mistletoes are dispersed primarily by frugivorous birds and have highly aggregated distributions atmultiple scales. Mistletoe specialist frugivores have been found to intensify infections within infected hosts andstands, and this is considered the most likely mechanism underlying clumped mistletoe distributions at these scales.How these patchy infections first develop and whether seed dispersers also contribute to aggregated mistletoedistributions at landscape and regional scales have not been evaluated. Here we predict the mistletoe seed shadowof a dietary generalist (spiny-cheeked honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis Aves: Meliphagidae), by combining ourobservations of movements via radio telemetry with previous data on gut passage times to estimate seed dispersalcurves for individual birds. There was considerable variation in movements and inferred seed dispersal betweenindividuals, with non-breeding birds predicted to regularly transport Amyema quandang (Santalales: Loranthaceae)seeds up to 700 m; well beyond the boundaries of an existing mistletoe infection. As the first work to considerexplicitly the distance component of mistletoe seed dispersal by dietary generalists, this study poses furtherquestions about the relative seed dispersal roles of dietary generalists and mistletoe specialists. Moreover, ourfindings highlight considerable intraspecific variation in movement and foraging behaviour, suggesting gender andreproductive status of birds should be considered explicitly when quantifying seed dispersal services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-655
Number of pages6
JournalAustral Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

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