Frugivores and fruit syndromes: differences in patterns at the genus and species level

K. E. Fischer, C. A. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The authors compiled data on fleshy fruit traits from five regional floras to test the hypothesis that fruit traits form character complexes which covary independently of phylogeny (ie across lineages). Results suggest that such character complexes are rare, and that analyses of covariation among these character complexes are extremely sensitive to the investigator's choice of sampling unit. When syndromes derived from observations of the foraging behavior of frugivores are analyzed using species as sampling units, data show significant associations among traits at four out of five locations. When genera are used as sampling units, there is no significant association among traits at any of the sites. Theories of coevolution between fruits and frugivores have proposed that fruit morphology is a response to selective pressures exerted by frugivorous birds and mammals. If these frugivores have shaped fruit morphology into dispersal-related character complexes or syndromes, then traits associated with a syndrome should be absent or much reduced in frequency in regions lacking that guild of dispersers. To test this prediction, the authors examined the flora of New Guinea, which lacks primates and other diurnal mammalian frugivores, and found no difference in the frequency of traits associated with dispersal by diurnal mammals. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-482
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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