Cryptic Consequences of a Dispersal Mutualism: Seed Burial, Elaiosome Removal, and Seed-bank Dynamics

Seed dispersers influence the distribution and success of plants by defining the ecological context that an individual will experience throughout its lifetime. In transporting seeds to new environments, animal dispersers can influence plant performance by setting the stage for subsequent ecological interactions with competitors, predators, disease agents, and herbivores (e.g., Janzen 1970, Augspurger 1983, Kalisz et al. 1999). Although dispersal to new locations can benefit plants in numerous ways, it is less widely recognized that these services may also impose a variety of costs (e.g., Feldman et al. 1999). Understanding the net effect of dispersal, and thus its significance as an ecological and evolutionary force, will depend on the extent to which costs of dispersal outweigh the benefits.