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ABSTRACT:

Dispersal of banana passionfruit (Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima) by exotic mammals in New Zealand facilitates plant invasiveness

Journal Article

Beavon MA; Kelly D

2014

New Zealand Journal of Ecology

Banana passionfruit (Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima) is a noxious vine that is invasive in forest\npatches in coastal regions throughout New Zealand. We investigated the dispersal mechanisms that facilitate\nits spread in the Marlborough Sounds. To find out which animals act as dispersers we monitored tagged fruits\nin the field. Fruits were removed quickly after ripening. Significantly fewer fruits were wholly removed from\noff-road locations than locations on road edges but removal was high in both cases (70% and 93% respectively)\nindicating likely dispersal by both humans and wild animals. We found no evidence of dispersal by birds but\ninfrared cameras documented possums and rats consuming fruits in the field. To investigate the effect of fruit\nhandling on germination we compared germination success between hand-cleaned seeds fleshy seeds and\nintact fruits in the field and glasshouse. Seeds germinated readily in all treatments with no significant difference\nbetween treatments so seeds do not require frugivore handling to germinate. In addition we measured the\ngermination of seeds extracted from 1.5 kg of feral pig faeces collected from Sus scrofa at Te Weuweu Bay\nand from faeces from captive possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus). Seeds\nextracted from pig and possum droppings readily germinated with final germination success not significantly\ndifferent from hand-cleaned or in-flesh seeds. None of the few intact seeds excreted by Norway rats germinated.\nBanana passionfruit has formed invasive mutualisms for both pollination (with introduced bees) and dispersal\n(with introduced mammals) exacerbating its spread. Weed management should combine direct weed control\nwith limiting the spread of banana passionfruit by managing feral pigs and possums

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Support

The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.