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Spatial and temporal variation in fruit production and consumption in a southeastern U.S. landscape.
Kwit, Charles*,1, Levey, Douglas1, Greenberg, Cathryn2, Pearson, Scott3, McCarty, John4, Sargent, Sarah5, Mumme, Ronald5, 1 University of Florida, Gainesville, FL2 US Forest Service, Asheville, NC3 Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA4 University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE5 Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
ABSTRACT- Since 1994 we have been gathering data on fleshy fruit production in 5 habitat types at the Savannah River Site (South Carolina, USA) by counting fruit monthly in replicate (n=10-13 per habitat type) 20 x 50-m plots. Fleshy fruit production, which exhibits dramatic spatiotemporal variation, typically begins in May, peaks in September and October, and decreases throughout the winter months. In most habitats, fleshy fruit biomass is similar to that of hard mast. Most fruit is eaten by omnivorous birds, but removal rates, proportions, and patterns differ among plant species. Most fruit consumption occurs in late fall and winter, indicating that winter residents, not migrating birds, rely most heavily on fruit resources. Indeed, the distribution of some winter residents is related to available fleshy fruit biomass, and consumption rates of certain winter-fruiting species suggest that fruits of such species are especially important during cold winters. In addition to examining ecological relationships between birds and fruits, our long-term data also provides information for land managers to predict fruit production in a variety of habitats.
Key words: fruit production, fruit-frugivore interactions, fruit consumption