Germination in seed species ingested by opossums: Implications for seed dispersal and forest conservation

  • Cáceres N
  • De Araújo Monteiro-Filho E
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Abstract

Seed germination in plant species consumed by opossums, genus Didelphis, was investigated in southern Brazil, in order to improve knowledge of the strategies of zoochorous plants in the Neotropics. Seeds were obtained from opossum feces. Thirteen of the most frequent species in the diet of local opossums were tested for germination rates and germination responses under different qualities (red/far red ratio) and different intensities of light. Most seeds from feces germinated similarly to the control groups, except for seeds of Rubus rosifolius, which appeared to depend on gut passage. Other experiments revealed that most seeds in the opossums' diet were of pioneer species, with most germination occurring during favorable humid conditions in the rainy season. A few species showed negative photoblastism, or no dormancy pattern. Small mammals are suggested as possible tools for area recuperation programs, through seed dispersal of many pioneer and some shade-tolerant plants, under suitable management.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Dormancy
  • Light quality
  • Marsupials
  • Seed germination

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Authors

  • Nilton Carlos Cáceres

  • Emygdio Leite De Araújo Monteiro-Filho

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