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Interspecific and annual variation in pre-dispersal seed predation by a granivorous bird in two East Asian hackberries, Celtis biondii and Celtis sinensis


  • Editor
    J. Arroyo

T. Yoshikawa, Forest Biology Laboratory, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City 606-8502, Japan.


Pre-dispersal seed predation by granivorous birds has potential to limit fruit removal and subsequent seed dispersal by legitimate avian seed dispersers in bird-dispersed plants, especially when the birds form flocks. We monitored pre-dispersal seed predation by the Japanese grosbeak, Eophona personata, of two bird-dispersed hackberry species (Cannabaceae), Celtis biondii (four trees) and Celtis sinensis (10 trees), for 3 years (2005, 2007 and 2008) in a fragmented forest in temperate Japan. Throughout the 3 years, predation was more intense on C. biondii, which, as a consequence, lost a larger part of its fruit crop. Grosbeaks preferred C. biondii seeds that had a comparatively lower energy content and lower hardness than C. sinensis, suggesting an association between seed hardness and selective foraging by grosbeaks. In C. biondii, intensive predation markedly reduced fruit duration and strongly limited fruit removal by seed dispersers, especially in 2007 and 2008. In C. sinensis, seed dispersers consumed fruits throughout the fruiting seasons in all 3 years. In C. biondii, variation in the timing of grosbeak migration among years was associated with annual variation in this bird’s effects on fruit removal. Our results demonstrate that seed predation by flocks of granivorous birds can dramatically disrupt seed dispersal in fleshy-fruited plants and suggest the importance of understanding their flocking behaviour.