Colour and odour drive fruit selection and seed dispersal by mouse lemurs
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Animals and fruiting plants are involved in a complex set of interactions, with animals relying on fruiting trees as food resources, and fruiting trees relying on animals for seed dispersal. This interdependence shapes fruit signals such as colour and odour, to increase fruit detectability, and animal sensory systems, such as colour vision and olfaction to facilitate food identification and selection. Despite the ecological and evolutionary importance of plant-animal interactions for shaping animal sensory adaptations and plant characteristics, the details of the relationship are poorly understood. Here we examine the role of fruit chromaticity, luminance and odour on seed dispersal by mouse lemurs. We show that both fruit colour and odour significantly predict fruit consumption and seed dispersal by Microcebus ravelobensis and M. murinus. Our study is the first to quantify and examine the role of bimodal fruit signals on seed dispersal in light of the sensory abilities of the disperser.
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