Seed dispersal of fleshy-fruited invasive plants by birds: contributing factors and management options


*Correspondence: Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, CRC for Australian Weed Management, Alan Fletcher Research Station, Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, PO Box 36, Sherwood, Queensland 4075, Australia. Tel.: + 61733750737. Fax: + 61733796815. E-mail:


The ecology of seed dispersal by vertebrates has been investigated extensively over recent decades, yet only limited research has been conducted on how suites of invasive plants and frugivorous birds interact. In this review, we examine how plant fruit traits (morphology, colour and display, nutritional quality, accessibility and phenology), avian traits (fruit handling techniques, gut passage time and effect, bird movements and social behaviour and dietary composition) and landscape structure (fruit neighbourhood, habitat loss and fragmentation and perch tree effects) affect frugivory and seed dispersal in invasive plants. This functional approach could be used to develop generic models of seed dispersal distributions for suites of invasive plant species and improve management efficiencies. Four broad research approaches are described that could direct management of bird-dispersed invasive plants at the landscape scale, by manipulating dispersal. First, research is needed to quantify the effect of biological control agents on dispersal, particularly how changes in fruit production and/or quality affect fruit choice by frugivores, dispersal distributions of seed and post-dispersal processes. Second, we explore how seed dispersal could be directed, such as by manipulating perch structures and/or vegetation density to attract frugivorous birds after they have been foraging on invasive plant fruits. Third, the major sources of seed spread could be identified and removed (i.e. targeting core or satellite infestations, particular habitats and creating barrier zones). Fourth, alternative food resources could be provided for frugivores, to replace fruits of invasive plants, and their use quantified.