New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2012) 36(2): 228- 231

Seed dispersal of matai (Prumnopitys taxifolia) by feral pigs (Sus scrofa)

Short Communication
Sarah-Jane O’Connor *
Dave Kelly  
  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Introduced feral pigs (Sus scrofa) include native fruit and seed in their diet, and thus may act as seed dispersers if seeds are passed intact. The aim of this study was to determine whether pigs consume, and subsequently disperse, intact seeds of the New Zealand native tree matai (Prumnopitys taxifolia). Two captive pigs were fed 100 ripe fruit of matai and their faeces were checked for seeds for 4 days. Fourteen intact seeds (14%) were recovered and 57% of these germinated under glasshouse conditions, comparable with germination from hand-cleaned seeds. We collected 3.5 kg of feral pig faeces from matai-dominated forest in Isolated Hill Reserve, southern Marlborough. This sample contained over 450 intact matai seeds; these seeds readily germinated in the glasshouse, reaching 68% germination after 22 months. These results indicate that pigs are consuming native fruit and passing some viable seeds out – thus potentially acting as occasional seed dispersers.