Seed retention times in New Zealand’s largest gecko, Hoplodactylus duvaucelii, and implications for seed dispersal
- The School of Environment, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
- Moa’s Ark Research, Paraparaumu, New Zealand
- Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Fruit is an important component in the diet of many lizards, but their role as seed dispersers is often overlooked. Seed retention time and animal movement determine how far a fleshy fruited seed will be dispersed from the parent plant. Seed retention times were investigated in 78 captive Hoplodactylus duvaucelii (Duvaucel’s geckos). Geckos were offered fruits from 10 plant species. Fifty-one geckos consumed fruits and the mean seed retention time was 69 hours (range 31 to 145 hours). There was no difference between the mean seed retention in adult males and females, but juvenile geckos had significantly shorter mean seed retention times. There was no relationship between seed retention time and body mass in adult geckos. Based on their seed retention times, we suggest Duvaucel’s geckos and other native lizards with body mass ≥ 14 g could disperse seeds over 10 m away from the parent plant.