Incorporating Cache Management Behavior into Seed Dispersal: The Effect of Pericarp Removal on Acorn GerminationReport as inadecuate




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Selecting seeds for long-term storage is a key factor for food hoarding animals. Siberian chipmunks Tamias sibiricus remove the pericarp and scatter hoard sound acorns of Quercus mongolica over those that are insect-infested to maximize returns from caches. We have no knowledge of whether these chipmunks remove the pericarp from acorns of other species of oaks and if this behavior benefits seedling establishment. In this study, we tested whether Siberian chipmunks engage in this behavior with acorns of three other Chinese oak species, Q. variabilis, Q. aliena and Q. serrata var. brevipetiolata, and how the dispersal and germination of these acorns are affected. Our results show that when chipmunks were provided with sound and infested acorns of Quercus variabilis, Q. aliena and Q. serrata var. brevipetiolata, the two types were equally harvested and dispersed. This preference suggests that Siberian chipmunks are incapable of distinguishing between sound and insect-infested acorns. However, Siberian chipmunks removed the pericarp from acorns of these three oak species prior to dispersing and caching them. Consequently, significantly more sound acorns were scatter hoarded and more infested acorns were immediately consumed. Additionally, indoor germination experiments showed that pericarp removal by chipmunks promoted acorn germination while artificial removal showed no significant effect. Our results show that pericarp removal allows Siberian chipmunks to effectively discriminate against insect-infested acorns and may represent an adaptive behavior for cache management. Because of the germination patterns of pericarp-removed acorns, we argue that the foraging behavior of Siberian chipmunks could have potential impacts on the dispersal and germination of acorns from various oak species.



Author: Xianfeng Yi , Mingming Zhang, Andrew W. Bartlow, Zhong Dong

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/



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