Bat dispersal of fern spores in New Zealand
- School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
Fern dispersal is generally considered to be anemochorous. In New Zealand, short-tailed bats Mystacina tuberculata consume fern spores. We conducted a germination experiment of bat faecal pellets collected from three roost locations in Pureora Forest Park (North Island) to estimate the viability of fern spores that had survived bat gut passage. Spores of Cyathea, Dicksonia, Hymenophyllum, and Microsorum were recorded in the faecal pellets. Of 31 spores in 120 faecal pellets (c. 1 in 4 faecal pellets contained spores), 13 germinated, with a mean abundance of viable spores per faecal pellet of 0.2 ± 0.3. Short-tailed bats should therefore be considered as potential dispersal vectors of ferns in New Zealand forests.