Fruit features in relation to species ecology in the genus Coprosma
- Botany Division, DSIR, Dunedin
Until now studies attempting to find ecological correlations between fruit features, dispersal and species ecology have had very limited success, partly because of the many constraints that limit interdependence between plants and animals. Previous analyses have utilized a range of plant species from different genera and families. In an attempt to control for phylogeny, I have focused on the genus Coprosma, which comprises nearly 20% of the fleshy-fruit producing species in the New Zealand vascular flora. Results suggest that fruit features such as colour, flesh quality and quantity, flesh/seed dry weight ratio and seed weight are significantly related to aspects of the species' ecology. In some cases fruit features may reflect different guilds of vertebrate dispersers.