New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2008) 32(1): 1- 6

Seed retention times in the New Zealand pigeon, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae

Research Article
Debra M. Wotton 1*
Mick N. Clout 2
Dave Kelly 1
  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
  2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

We offered ripe fruits of tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa), taraire (B. tarairi), and pūriri (Vitex lucens) to captive New Zealand pigeons (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) and recorded seed retention times. We also recorded seed retention times while radio-tracking wild pigeons in Taranaki and Canterbury. We report wild pigeon retention times for tawa, pūriri, miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea), fivefinger (Pseudopanax arboreus), and kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) seeds. Where data were available for the same plant species from wild and captive pigeons, retention times were similar. Seed retention time differed significantly among fruit species, and was positively related to seed mass. Mean retention times ranged from 37-45 min for the two smallest-seeded species (fivefinger and kahikatea) up to 109-181 min for the three largest species (pūriri, taraire, and tawa). We also report the second published instance of regurgitation by the New Zealand pigeon.