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Can rodents enhance germination rates in rainforest seeds?

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Summary

The decline of large coevolved frugivorous species within fragmented habitats can have an effect on ecological processes, for example, seed dispersal and germination. It is therefore necessary for more resilient species to ensure essential processes are maintained within the system. This study investigates the influence of two rodent species, Melomys cervinipes (Fawn-footed Melomys) and Rattus fuscipes (Bush Rat), on the germination process of rainforest fruits. Both species are endemic to north Queensland rainforest and commonly found in fragmented habitats in high densities. We found in 85% of fruit species tested, rodent feeding increased seed germination rate by a factor of 3.5. Our results suggest that rodents can play a significant role in enhancing germination rates of fruits in the tropical rainforest of far north Queensland.

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