Project Title

The effects of urbanization on avian seed dispersal success of Eastern Poison Ivy (Anacardiaceae)

Authors' Affiliations

Amber Stanley, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Dr. Gerardo Arceo-Gomez, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

RIPSHIN MTN. ROOM 130

Start Date

4-12-2019 2:40 PM

End Date

4-12-2019 2:55 PM

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Biological Sciences

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Gerardo Arceo-Gomez

Type

Oral Presentation

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Master’s

Project's Category

Ecology

Abstract Text

The rate of global urbanization is increasing rapidly as the human population expands, leading to species loss and biotic homogenization. Less studied, however, is the effect of urbanization on the frequency and efficiency of species interactions. Animal-based seed dispersal interactions may be especially sensitive to urbanization because they depend on several factors: 1) the rate of seed dispersal interactions (feeding), 2) diversity of disperser species, 3) the probability of seed dispersal and 4) the probability of germination after seed dispersal. However, how urbanization disrupts species interactions, including seed-dispersal, is still poorly known. In this study, we evaluate differences in the frequency and efficiency of seed dispersal between urban and natural sites using Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) as the focal species. Individual T. radicans lianas within natural and urban sites were observed in twelve-minute intervals (total 185.8 hours) at urban and natural sites during which the number and identity of feeding avian species was recorded. A total of 9500 fruits between natural and urban sites were marked with a UV fluorescent dye. Undispersed marked fruits were recovered via seed traps to estimate probability of dispersal. Defecated fruits were collected from natural and urban sites to evaluate germination efficiency after dispersal. Feeding rate was twice as high in urban compared to natural sites (P=0.007). Additionally, seed disperser diversity was on average twice as high in urban sites and species composition was significantly different between natural and urban sites. However, probability of seed dispersal was not significantly different between urban and natural sites (P=0.3). Interestingly, germination rate was 20% higher in defecated seeds collected from natural sites compared to defecated seeds from urban sites (P=0.005). Our results suggest that while T. radicans attracts a higher number and greater diversity of seed dispersers in urban areas, overall dispersal success is the same or even greater at natural sites, as seeds have a higher chance of germinating after being consumed by dispersers at natural compared to urban sites. Species composition differences between sites may play an important role in germinability of seeds; differences in species’ feeding strategies result in differences in their ability to scarify seeds in their digestive systems, a necessary step for seeds that rely on animal seed dispersers. Urbanization can thus negatively affect seed dispersal interactions by altering the composition of disperser species. Other animal-based interactions may be similarly affected by urbanization, and thus we emphasize the need for further studies.

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Apr 12th, 2:40 PM Apr 12th, 2:55 PM

The effects of urbanization on avian seed dispersal success of Eastern Poison Ivy (Anacardiaceae)

RIPSHIN MTN. ROOM 130

The rate of global urbanization is increasing rapidly as the human population expands, leading to species loss and biotic homogenization. Less studied, however, is the effect of urbanization on the frequency and efficiency of species interactions. Animal-based seed dispersal interactions may be especially sensitive to urbanization because they depend on several factors: 1) the rate of seed dispersal interactions (feeding), 2) diversity of disperser species, 3) the probability of seed dispersal and 4) the probability of germination after seed dispersal. However, how urbanization disrupts species interactions, including seed-dispersal, is still poorly known. In this study, we evaluate differences in the frequency and efficiency of seed dispersal between urban and natural sites using Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) as the focal species. Individual T. radicans lianas within natural and urban sites were observed in twelve-minute intervals (total 185.8 hours) at urban and natural sites during which the number and identity of feeding avian species was recorded. A total of 9500 fruits between natural and urban sites were marked with a UV fluorescent dye. Undispersed marked fruits were recovered via seed traps to estimate probability of dispersal. Defecated fruits were collected from natural and urban sites to evaluate germination efficiency after dispersal. Feeding rate was twice as high in urban compared to natural sites (P=0.007). Additionally, seed disperser diversity was on average twice as high in urban sites and species composition was significantly different between natural and urban sites. However, probability of seed dispersal was not significantly different between urban and natural sites (P=0.3). Interestingly, germination rate was 20% higher in defecated seeds collected from natural sites compared to defecated seeds from urban sites (P=0.005). Our results suggest that while T. radicans attracts a higher number and greater diversity of seed dispersers in urban areas, overall dispersal success is the same or even greater at natural sites, as seeds have a higher chance of germinating after being consumed by dispersers at natural compared to urban sites. Species composition differences between sites may play an important role in germinability of seeds; differences in species’ feeding strategies result in differences in their ability to scarify seeds in their digestive systems, a necessary step for seeds that rely on animal seed dispersers. Urbanization can thus negatively affect seed dispersal interactions by altering the composition of disperser species. Other animal-based interactions may be similarly affected by urbanization, and thus we emphasize the need for further studies.