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Scat analysis reveals a wide set of plant species to be potentially dispersed by foxes

Bram D'hondt UGent, Lies Vansteenbrugge UGent, Koen Van den Berge, Jan Bastiaens and Maurice Hoffmann UGent (2011) PLANT ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. 144(1). p.106-110
abstract
Background and aims A good understanding of the ways in which seeds are dispersed within landscapes is essential to plant ecology and conservation. Carnivorous mammals can act as vectors in dispersal through ingestion and subsequent excretion of seeds (endozoochory). The red fox (Vulpes vulpes L.) is a predatory species that is markedly opportunistic both in habitat and feeding habits, and occurs widespread in many rural and urbanized regions. Due to their high mobility within and among territories, they could contribute to long-distance seed dispersal on a regular basis. To identify the set of species that are potentially dispersed by foxes, we have analyzed scats from the region of Flanders (Belgium) for seeds. Methods 303 scats were collected throughout the region during two field campaigns. All seeds were isolated from the scats and identified. Key results Seeds were present in 57% of the scats. If present, the seed number was mostly low (< 10), yet amounted to 1135 in one sample. 77 taxa were identified. 82% of the seeds belonged to woody plant species with fleshy propagules (drupes or berries), Rubus being the most abundant taxon (64%). In addition, numerous dry-fruited woody, herbaceous, and graminoid taxa were found. Autumn samples contained more, and more often, seeds than spring samples. Conclusions The diversity of plant types and species encountered in scats clearly reflects the opportunistic habits of foxes, with many species consumed from anthropogenic sources such as cultivated plants or waste material. We suspect an inadvertent intake for most of the dry-fruited species, for instance, through the manipulation of prey. Although wild foxes thus appear to excrete a diverse set of species, their role as effective seed dispersers needs further investigation, primarily concerning the fate of these scat-borne seeds.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Vulpes, Fox, frugivory, seed dispersal, zoochory, endozoochory, HABITATS, LANDSCAPE, FRUGIVORY, MAMMALS, PATTERNS, BIRDS, ENDOZOOCHOROUS SEED DISPERSAL
journal title
PLANT ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
Plant Ecol. Evol.
volume
144
issue
1
pages
106 - 110
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000289130900010
JCR category
PLANT SCIENCES
JCR impact factor
1.167 (2011)
JCR rank
106/189 (2011)
JCR quartile
3 (2011)
ISSN
2032-3913
DOI
10.5091/plecevo.2011.472
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
1229736
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1229736
date created
2011-05-23 11:18:33
date last changed
2011-05-30 14:52:26
@article{1229736,
  abstract     = {Background and aims A good understanding of the ways in which seeds are dispersed within landscapes is essential to plant ecology and conservation. Carnivorous mammals can act as vectors in dispersal through ingestion and subsequent excretion of seeds (endozoochory). The red fox (Vulpes vulpes L.) is a predatory species that is markedly opportunistic both in habitat and feeding habits, and occurs widespread in many rural and urbanized regions. Due to their high mobility within and among territories, they could contribute to long-distance seed dispersal on a regular basis. To identify the set of species that are potentially dispersed by foxes, we have analyzed scats from the region of Flanders (Belgium) for seeds. Methods 303 scats were collected throughout the region during two field campaigns. All seeds were isolated from the scats and identified. Key results Seeds were present in 57\% of the scats. If present, the seed number was mostly low ({\textlangle} 10), yet amounted to 1135 in one sample. 77 taxa were identified. 82\% of the seeds belonged to woody plant species with fleshy propagules (drupes or berries), Rubus being the most abundant taxon (64\%). In addition, numerous dry-fruited woody, herbaceous, and graminoid taxa were found. Autumn samples contained more, and more often, seeds than spring samples. Conclusions The diversity of plant types and species encountered in scats clearly reflects the opportunistic habits of foxes, with many species consumed from anthropogenic sources such as cultivated plants or waste material. We suspect an inadvertent intake for most of the dry-fruited species, for instance, through the manipulation of prey. Although wild foxes thus appear to excrete a diverse set of species, their role as effective seed dispersers needs further investigation, primarily concerning the fate of these scat-borne seeds.},
  author       = {D'hondt, Bram and Vansteenbrugge, Lies and Van den Berge, Koen and Bastiaens, Jan and Hoffmann, Maurice},
  issn         = {2032-3913},
  journal      = {PLANT ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION},
  keyword      = {Vulpes,Fox,frugivory,seed dispersal,zoochory,endozoochory,HABITATS,LANDSCAPE,FRUGIVORY,MAMMALS,PATTERNS,BIRDS,ENDOZOOCHOROUS SEED DISPERSAL},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {106--110},
  title        = {Scat analysis reveals a wide set of plant species to be potentially dispersed by foxes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5091/plecevo.2011.472},
  volume       = {144},
  year         = {2011},
}

Chicago
D’hondt, Bram, Lies Vansteenbrugge, Koen Van den Berge, Jan Bastiaens, and Maurice Hoffmann. 2011. “Scat Analysis Reveals a Wide Set of Plant Species to Be Potentially Dispersed by Foxes.” Plant Ecology and Evolution 144 (1): 106–110.
APA
D’hondt, B., Vansteenbrugge, L., Van den Berge, K., Bastiaens, J., & Hoffmann, M. (2011). Scat analysis reveals a wide set of plant species to be potentially dispersed by foxes. PLANT ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 144(1), 106–110.
Vancouver
1.
D’hondt B, Vansteenbrugge L, Van den Berge K, Bastiaens J, Hoffmann M. Scat analysis reveals a wide set of plant species to be potentially dispersed by foxes. PLANT ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. 2011;144(1):106–10.
MLA
D’hondt, Bram, Lies Vansteenbrugge, Koen Van den Berge, et al. “Scat Analysis Reveals a Wide Set of Plant Species to Be Potentially Dispersed by Foxes.” PLANT ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 144.1 (2011): 106–110. Print.