Jump to content
Forum for Epiphytic Myrmecophytes

Endozoochoric ornithochory

Recommended Posts

There is not a lot of information in old world myrmecophyte literature regarding seed dispersal syndromes.  However, there are numbers of anecdotal reports of an Australian bird species known as Mistletoe birds Dicaeum hirundinaceum eating hydnophyte fruits. As one might expect from the bird's common name, Mistletoe fruits are a major part of their diet hence a mutualistic seed dispersal syndrome that also includes fruits of hydnophytinae.  In Asia they are known as Sun birds and there they have also been reported as eating hydnophyte fruits.  Mistletoe fruits are extremely sticky and Mistletoe bird excreta retains this property; therefore, seed (it passes through the birds gut so fast it is undigested) is stuck to trees and it seems probable that hydnophyte seeds can be dispersed by the same process.



Lok, A. F .S. L. and Tan, H. T. W. 2009. Tuberous, Epiphytic, Rubiaceous Myrmecophytes of Singapore. Nature in Singapore 2, pp231- 236.

This PDF is downloadable.

The following images were taken in a large Paperbark Melaleuca tree in the grounds of the caravan park in tourist popular Palm Cove. Unfortunately, it was raining.

691 Myrmecodia beccarii "northern form" with mistletoe bird..JPG]





Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

but the drupe seem no a rubiaceae fruit , no ?


It's a mistletoe seed, a parasite.


The extract is from Attenborough's series "Private life of Plants", the episode is "Living Together".


The point is that this bird shows us how seeds like this get attached to branches. If it's the same species of bird that eats the seeds in Derrick's pictures then I would argue that it probably uses the same tactic, regardless of seed species.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The bird in the video and in my images are the same species.  Hydnophytinae seed is unlikely to be as sticky as mistletoe seeds, but regular ingesting of them by mistletoe birds (drupes are very freely produced) must surely provide instances where they are deposited in arboreal sites suitable for establishment in new areas if only over (unknown) periods of time. Also if seed of hydnophytes and mistletoe birds is ingested at similar times (mistletoes often share the same trees as myrmecodias etc.) the sticky attributes of mistletoe seed might also be shared with Myrmecodia etc seed in bird faeces. Once a single seed reaches a new tree, especially one with resident Philidris ants, (in Australia) it has a greater chance of survival and from then on, resultant seed will tend to be spread throughout an ant colonies territory.  Another factor that can assist establishment is that there may already be other myrmecophytic species in residence due to the common occurrence of guilds. Some myrmecophyte species such as Dischidia nummularia are extremely common and widespread.

Leeuwen-Reynvaan, J. van and Leeuwen, W. van, 1911. On the distribution of the seeds of a certain species of Dischidia by means of a species of ant: (Iridomyrmex myrmecodiae) (sic) Emery, in KNAW proceedings, 141. Amsterdam, pp153- 158. http://www.dwc.knaw.nl/DL/publications/PU00013132.pdf

Maeyama T.  Matsumoto T. 2000. Genetic relationship of myrmecophyte (Anthorrhiza caerulea) individuals within and among territories of the arboreal ant (Dolichoderus sp.) detected using random amplified polymorphic DNA markers. Austral Ecology vol.25, 3, pp273- 282.



Fred. It is so refreshing to see your mutualistic inputs. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...