ABSTRACT Endozoochorous seed dispersal by kerama deer (Cervus nippon keramae) was investigated at four sites on Aka Island, the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. Kerama deer feces contained seeds of 35 plant species. Most of the germinated seeds were small (1.3 ± 0.18 mm) and had a hard coat, comparable to the germinated seeds in several other studies of endozoochorous seed dispersal by herbivores. Both the numbers and species compositions of seeds differed among the four sites, reflecting differences in the food available to kerama deer among habitats. Although many graminoid seeds were found in the two open habitats (Sites A and B) and in the adjoining forest habitat (Site C), woody plant seeds dispersed endozoochorously by birds and mammals were dominant in the forest (Site D), away from the marsh. Although a majority of the graminoid species was growing in open habitats such as the marsh and open fields, few were growing in the forest. Therefore, the kerama deer spread many open‐habitat graminoid seeds to the open and forest habitats. If a high density of kerama deer persists for a long time and gaps in forests are created by browsing kerama deer or by other means, graminoid species may spread substantially on Aka Island. Therefore, it is possible that seed dispersal by forest deer contributes to the expansion of grasslands.
Biotropica – Wiley
Published: May 1, 2006
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