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Reproductive and Dispersal Ecology of the Invasive Coral Ardisia (Ardisia crenata) in Northern Florida

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PAGE 1

REPRODUCTIVE AND DISPERSAL ECOLOGY OF THE INVASIVE CORAL ARDISIA (Ardisia crenata) IN NORTHERN FLORIDA By MICHAEL J. MEISENBURG A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2007 Michael J. Meisenburg

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This document is dedicated to my sister Marie Gedeon (1951-2006).

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS To finish this—and to believe in myself enough to do so—I am grateful to my wife Vasiliki. Without her I would not have jour neyed down this path. Most of us need someone in our lives to coach us on, to prod us along, and to pick us up when we stumble. She is that person in my life. I wi ll never be all that I can be, or maximize my potential, but that is okay. My life is rich er with her in it, and because of her I will accomplish more. It is because of her that I am about to finish this journey. Despite much encouragement from my a dvisor and my committee, my friends and my family, and (most of all) my wife, this pr oject took seven years to finish. In the end, I suppose that it was the impending early retirement of my advisor that finally forced me to complete what has become my personal 800-lb gorilla. My gorilla has accompanied me everywhere these last few years, and has been with me day and night. My gorilla taught me how to incorporate stress into my life, how to exist after nights with little sleep, how to maintain a 40-lb weight gain, how to abandon hobbies that I on ce enjoyed, how to despise writing, and how to avoid tasks and not reach my goals. Soon I will turn in my completed thesis, and I will lose my hair y companion. I will not miss him. A special thank you is due to Alison Fox (my advisor) and Randall Stocker (Alison’s husband and one of my committee members) for getting me through this. I hope they enjoy their travels.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................vii LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................viii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..x CHAPTER 1 UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF SEED DISPERSAL FOR NONNATIVE PLANT SPECIES................................................................................1 Introduction................................................................................................................... 1 Coral Ardisia in Florida................................................................................................2 Importance and Mechanisms of Seed Dispersal...........................................................4 A Diffuse Mutualism.............................................................................................5 The Flesh of the Fruit............................................................................................6 Dispersal Process by Birds...........................................................................................7 Seed Ingestion.......................................................................................................7 Seed Deposition.....................................................................................................7 Seed Viability........................................................................................................8 Observations of Bird Behavior..............................................................................9 Project Goals.................................................................................................................9 2 REPRODUCTIVE PHENOLOGY OF Ardisia crenata ............................................11 Introduction.................................................................................................................11 Methods......................................................................................................................12 Site Descriptions..................................................................................................12 Data Collection....................................................................................................13 Data Analysis.......................................................................................................15 Results........................................................................................................................ .16 Flowering and Fruiting Phenology......................................................................16 Fruit Loss.............................................................................................................16 Discussion...................................................................................................................17 Fruiting Phenology..............................................................................................17 Fruit Loss.............................................................................................................17

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vi Longetivity of fruit persistence....................................................................17 Influence of fruit/plant presentation on loss rate..........................................18 Seasonality of fruit loss................................................................................20 3 NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF Ardisia crenata FRUITS.......................................28 Introduction.................................................................................................................28 Methods......................................................................................................................29 Results........................................................................................................................ .30 Discussion...................................................................................................................31 4 CONSUMPTION OF ARDISIA CRE NATA FRUIT BY BIRDS AND THEIR ROLE IN SUBSEQUENT SEED DISPERSAL........................................................38 Introduction.................................................................................................................38 Methods......................................................................................................................39 Field Observations...............................................................................................39 Selection of Birds for Experiments.....................................................................39 Captive Feeding Trials........................................................................................39 Selection of Native Plants for Experiments.........................................................41 Data Analysis.......................................................................................................43 Results........................................................................................................................ .43 Field Observations...............................................................................................43 Feeding Trials......................................................................................................44 Discussion...................................................................................................................45 Field Observations...............................................................................................45 Feeding Trials......................................................................................................49 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................63 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................68

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vii LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Rainfall levels for Gainesville, FL (units are inches). It is not known how many years data collection constitute averages (Gainesville Sun, June 30, 2002)............27 3-1 Data for coral ardisia fruits (means a nd standard deviations ). Percentages of nutrient data are on a dry matter basis......................................................................35 3-2 Nutritional data for fruits available in northern Florida natural areas, grouped together by season. Fruits from coral ar disia are generally available winter through summer; values of fall fruits were included as a reference. Data for all species other than coral ardisia are from White (1989)........................................................36 3-3 The means and standard deviations of the fruit nutrient data from Table 3-2. Although the some coral ardisia fruits remain on the plant for the entire year, most competition for frugivores occurs winter through summer......................................37 4-1 Population statuses of th e birds tested. Data are from Stevenson and Anderson (1994).......................................................................................................................61 4-2 Transformed slope values fr om feeding trials. Significan ce levels indicate that two bird species did not significantly choose one fruit species over the other, while the remaining four bird species pref erred control fru its over test ( A. crenata ) fruits....61 4-3 Ardisia seed germination rates fr om seeds voided during feeding trials Control fruits were those that were manually depulped........................................................62

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viii LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1 Flowering dates of Ardisia crenata ..........................................................................23 2-2 Ardisia crenata fruit production dates for three p opulations. Values on the Y-axes represent the % of monitored plants at that stage.....................................................24 2-3 Fruit losses from Ardisia crenata plants at two sites during 2001. Error bars represent standard errors..........................................................................................25 2-4 The loss rates of Ardisia crenata fruits at Putz during 2001. The three lines represent loss rates for three densities of A. crenata plants. Error bars show 95% confidence intervals..................................................................................................25 2-5 Probability density function graphs for Ardisia crenata fruit loss rates at three different densities of plants: minimal (top), moderate (middle), and maximum (bottom)....................................................................................................................26 4-1 Results from European Starling feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Cinnamomum camphora The birds showed no taste preference for either fruit species. Bars represent standard error.....................................................................55 4-2 Results from gray catbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Forestiera godfreyi The birds showed no taste preference for either fruit species. Bars represent standard error....................................................................................56 4-3 Results from Northern Mockingbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Vaccinium corymbosum The birds showed a taste preference for V. corymbosum Bars represent standard error............................................................57 4-4 Results from American Robin feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Ilex opaca. The birds showed a taste preference for I. opaca Bars represent standard error............................................................................................................58 4-5 Results from Cedar Waxwing f eeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Ilex x attenuata The birds showed a taste preference for I. x attenuata Bars represent standard errors..........................................................................................59

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ix 4-6 Results from Fish Crow feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Vaccinium corymbosum The birds showed a taste preference for V. corymbosum Bars represent standard error....................................................................................60

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x Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science REPRODUCTIVE AND DISPERSAL ECOLOGY OF THE INVASIVE CORAL ARDISIA (Ardisia crenata) IN NORTHERN FLORIDA By Michael J. Meisenburg May 2007 Chair: Alison M. Fox Major: Agronomy Coral ardisia was introduced into the New World from Asia more than 100 years ago and has become a part of Florida landscapes. It has since been recognized as being an invasive weed even though it is suspected that consumption of its fruits by possible seed dispersers is an uncommon event. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the reproductive ecology of coral ardisia in its introduced range of northern Florida. Tracking tagged plants showed flowered th rough the summer and fruits ripened in mid-winter. The fruits can persist on the plan ts for up to one year, with the greatest rate of fruit loss occurring in late April. Plants in a natural area lost fruits at a faster rate than those in an urban area, and isolated plants lost fruits quicker than those in denser populations. The period of greatest fruit loss coincides with the spring migration of birds through Florida and suggests that some consum ption of fruits by birds is occurring. Fruits were found not to be nutritionally infe rior to native fruits, nor were any other factors found that would suggest a reason why fr uits of coral ardisia are rarely eaten.

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xi Despite many hours in the field, observations of birds feeding on coral ardisia fruits were limited to a single day with a single bird spec ies (gray catbird). Captive feeding trials found that six species of birds w ould eat coral ardisia fruits, bu t often favored the fruits of native species to those of coral ardisia. Gray Catbirds and European Starlings showed the greatest acceptance of coral ardisia fruits du ring captive feeding trials. Cedar Waxwings defecated seeds after eating fruits, while all other species regurgitated seeds. Seed germination rates were no different for 5 of 6 birds species tested between seeds defecated or regurgitated compared to those that were manually depulped. From damage incurred while manually trying to remove s eeds from fruits, Fish Crows significantly decreased seed germination rates. However, Fish Crows ate the fewest coral ardisia fruits.

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1 CHAPTER 1 UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF SEED DISPERSAL FOR NONNATIVE PLANT SPECIES Introduction The human-assisted spread of species into new regions and the subsequent ecological effects that some of these species have on native ecosystems is recognized as one of the most serious contemporary threat s to biodiversity. Indeed, Wilcove et al. (1998) regarded introduced species as being second only to habitat loss in terms of habitat impacts. Whether by accident or inte ntion, humans have been moving organisms for thousands of years, but the recognition of the negative impacts to natural systems as well as the magnitude of these impacts are more recent (for a good description see Mack et al. 2000). Although many taxa are represented, plants constitute some of the better-known examples, and within the state of Florida al one, millions of dollars are spent annually to control nonnative plants. For example, th e Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) spent 6.3 million dollars in FY2003 to control nonnative weeds. As large as this expenditure is, it includes neith er aquatic plants, with two of the worst introduced species, water hyacinth ( Eichhornia crassipes ) and hydrilla ( Hydrilla verticillata ), nor money allocated directly to the Melaleuca Program (FDEP 2004). One plant responsible for much of this expenditure in northern Florida is coral ardisia, Ardisia crenata Sims. (Myrsinaceae) (FDEP 2004).

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2 Coral Ardisia in Florida Native to southeastern Asia, coral ardisia grows from one to one and a half meters tall in shaded to partially-shaded areas. Initially single-stemmed, most plants eventually produce additional stems and maintain a multi-stemmed status for many years. After several years, stems begin growing short branch es. With leaves growing at the ends, the initial function of the branches is energy produc tion. After one to two years, a branch’s purpose changes to reproduction as the leaves are replaced by flowers in a cyme. During the branch’s final year, the flowers produce single-seeded drupes. Branches typically have about 5 to 20 fruits each and plants have from 1 to 10 branches. Branches fall from plants after the fruits are gone, and the lifespan of each branch is 3 to 4 years. The branches circle the stem, with the lowest bran ches being the oldest. Each year, the plant grows taller and produces a new set of branch es, and each ring of branches advances to the next stage of its cycle. Plants may begi n producing branches when about 20 cm tall. The pattern of continuously rege nerating stems makes it impossi ble to estimate the age of the plant based on stem size and reproductive status. Coral ardisia is a shrub that has been used for landscaping in Florida for more than 100 years (Royal Palm Nurseries 1900). At l east three factors may have contributed to the popularity of this species. First, it gr ows well in sites with no direct sunlight, a condition many landscape plants cannot tolerate Second, it produces large, bright red fruits just prior to Christmas that persist for months and contrast with its evergreen glossy, dark green leaves. Third, the plant s eems to rarely suffer insect damage. By 1982 coral ardisia was recognized as escaping cultivation and invading moist woods (Wunderlin 1982).

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3 In response to the plant’s invasion, the Fl orida Exotic Pest Plant Council has placed the plant on its Category I lis t of invasive plants (www. fleppc.org); a designation indicating that the plant is not only invading natural lands, but altering native plant communities. In 2003, the FDEP’s Upland Weeds Program ranked Ardisia spp. (which includes both coral ardisia and shoebutton ardisia ( Ardisia elliptica )) as the seventh-most herbicide-treated taxon in the state (FDEP 2004). While coral ardisia grows well in moist (mes ic) sites, it also invades wet (hydric) woods. Mesic hardwood hammock seems to be the natural community most prone to invasion (Langeland and Burks 1998). The plan t is not known to invade mesic or hydric pinelands (Dozier 1999). Coral ardisia fruits seem to be remove d from plants only occasionally (Dozier 1999), thus presenting a paradox in attempting to discover dispersal agents. If fruits are not often eaten, so that the seeds can be subs equently dispersed, th en how has it spread throughout natural areas in the stat e? Because the plant is stil l used in landscaping, some dispersal is anthropogenic, but this does not account for the plant’s widespread presence in natural areas (e.g. remote locations in San Felasco Hammock State Park, Gainesville, FL, Sam Cole, park biologist, personal comm unication). Birds are a likely candidate for non-human dispersers of this plant because coral ardisia does not posses mammaliandispersed fruit traits, such as being sweet-tasting and falling to the ground soon after ripening (Stiles 1980). In additi on, while coral ardisia’s frui ts are brightly-colored and highly visible in the forest due to this colo r, most mammals are color blind (Van der Pijl 1972). Fruits of a native congener ( A. escallonoides ) similarly seem not to be heavily

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4 used by birds, except for during spring migra tion (John Pascarella, University of Miami, personal communication). The Importance and Mechanisms of Seed Dispersal There are several reasons why seed dispersal is important to plants. First, because sites suitable for growth vary in space and tim e, plants must be able to colonize new areas as conditions change (Howe and Smallwood 1982). Second, dispersal beyond the canopy is a means of avoiding competition between parents and siblings. Finally, the Escape, or Janzen-Connell Hypothesis (Janzen 1970, Conne ll 1971), indicates that dispersal from the parent is important because seed predat ors (rodents, insects, or microbes) often concentrate their efforts under parent pl ants where food density is highest. Plants use various strategies for di spersing seeds beyond the range of their branches, and while the proce ss is an important part of plant population dynamics, it is especially important if the plants are inva sive, exotic species. Certain traits may influence a particular species’ propensity to become invasive but a species is much less likely to become a problem (beyond a local scale) without a reliable seed dispersal vector. Little is known about vertebrate-assist ed seed dispersal of invasive plant species in Florida, and few dispersers have been ade quately verified. Iden tification of dispersal agents relies heavily on assumptions (e.g. Morton 1982, Cronk and Fuller 1995), and there often seems to be a disregard of im portant subtleties (e.g not distinguishing between those that eat fruit pulp and those that eat fruit seeds). Many plants achieve seed dispersal through re latively simple processes such as via wind or water, but more complicated interact ions can occur when plants use vertebrates to disperse their seeds. Ecto zoochoric fruits or seeds attach to animals with hooks, barbs, or sticky secretions, while animals are usuall y enticed to eat endozoochoric seeds with a

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5 fleshy fruit meal. Successful seed dispersa l occurs only when still viable seed is dispersed. While seed dispersal may be an important initial step in a plant’s life, it is only the initial step as germination and seedling establishment are also required. Although fruit ingestion and subsequent seed dispersal of coral ardisia do not seem to be common events (Dozier 1999), even lo w frequency events could be important if plant mortality of seedlings was low. A trai t shared by many nonnative plants is a lack of pathogens and predators, and indeed, insect damage on coral ardisia is rarely observed (personal observation). In other words, a limited frequency of seed dispersal may not negatively affect coral ardisia as much as it would a native species that has coevolved with a suite of pathogens, parasites, and pred ators, because coral ar disia may suffer lower rates of mortality predation at the seed and seedling stages. A Diffuse Mutualism Tight relationships between a specific fruit and frugivore are unusual, and not known to occur for invasive plants. Indeed some non-native plant species have their seeds dispersed by bird species that did not coev olve with them. If they needed a specific disperser, introduced plants probably woul d not become a problem when introduced beyond their natural range. This type of s eed dispersal represents a mutualism because both participants benefit; the frugivore with a meal and the plant with its seeds dispersed. However, the mutualism is only fulfilled if a viable seed is m oved beyond the range of the plant’s branches. Following fruit consumption, seeds may be carried away from or dropped from the parent plant, with the latter resulting in no di spersal. For those seeds that are transported away from the parent, ingestion may increa se (Renne et al. 2001, Bartuszevige and Gorchov 2006, Figueroa and Castro 2002), d ecrease (Bartuszevige and Gorchov 2006,

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6 Meyer and Witmer 1998), or have no eff ect on seed germination rates (Meyer and Witmer 1998, Izhaki and Safriel 1990, Fi gueroa and Castro 2002). Seeds dropped under the parent plant and ingestion decreasing seed germination rate s are non-mutualistic situations where the frugivore bene fits but the plant does not. The Flesh of the Fruit Endozoochoric fruits typically consist of a digestible outer layer surrounding (at least) one seed, and in the majority of cases this is a fleshy peri carp consisting of pulp and skin. Alternatively, arillate fruits possess endozoochoric seeds in which the fruits open and reveal seeds that are covered in a di gestible coating. Arillate seeds may have a fleshy aril, such as southern magnolia ( Magnolia grandiflora ), or a dry, waxy aril like Chinese tallow ( Sapium sebiferum ). The nutrient content of fruits is usually a ssessed by measuring the levels of lipids, carbohydrates, and protein (Stiles 1980). Summer /early fall fruits tend to be higher in carbohydrates and water, while fall/winter fruits generally contain higher levels of lipids. Protein levels in fruits are usually low. Mammals feed more on summer and early fall fruits, which are often sweet-tasting, while the lipid-rich fruits of fall and winter are mostly utilized by birds (Stiles 1980). Most species of temperate fruiting plants in the eastern U.S. set fruit in the fall, presumably benefiting from migrating birds (Stiles 1980). These birds need energy to fuel migration, and fruits provide a readily digested source in packages that are easy to procure. However, fruit set in Florida’s natural communities may follow a different schedule because this geographic region is subject to the selective pressure of a large over-wintering bird population rather than the passage of fall migrants (Skeate 1987). While much of the state has a temperate fl ora and hence most plant species produce fruit

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7 in the fall, it is thought that a greater fruit biomass is produced in the winter months when birds such as American Robins ( Turdus migratorius ), Cedar Waxwings ( Bombycilla cedrorum ), Gray Catbirds ( Dumetella carolinensis ), and yellow-rumped warblers ( Dendroica coronata ) over-winter in Florida (Skeate 1987). The Dispersal Process by Birds Seed Ingestion For efficient flight it is essential th at birds minimize unnecessary weight. One strategy to accomplish this is for birds to el iminate heavy, undigest ible seeds as quickly as possible. Frugivorous birds can be di vided into two groups: gulpers and mashers (Moermond and Denslow 1985). Gulpers are speci es that tend to swa llow fruits whole, separate the seeds from the pulp internally, and then generally void the seeds at some distance from the parent plant (e.g., Northern Mockingbird ( Mimus polyglottos )). Mashers tend to crush fruits in their b ills separating the seeds from the pulp and swallowing just the pulp (e .g., northern cardinals ( Cardinalis cardinalis )). Mashers typically drop seeds from the canopy of the pare nt plant. Generally, birds with heavier conical bills are mashers while those with thinner bills are gulpers. Seed Deposition How a gulper rids itself of seeds is also im portant relative to plant dispersal. The seed may be separated from the pulp in the cr op with the seed regurgitated, or separation can occur further along the dige stive tract with th e seed defecated. The crop is an enlargement of the esophagus and while it is gene rally used to store food prior to entering the gizzard or stomach, it is also used for se parating the pulp from the seeds. Birds can regurgitate seeds that are cleaned of even th e most adhering pulp (such as those of coral ardisia). Murray et al. (1994) found that there is a positive correlation between the

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8 distance over which a seed is dispersed and the length of time that a bird carries the seed. Since regurgitation is faster than defecation, method of voidance might affect seed dispersal distance. Meyer and Witmer (1998) found the mean seed defecation time of the native shrub Viburnum dentatum after fruit consumption by American Robins was 58 minutes versus a mean regurgitation time of 19 minutes. Although these authors studied both voidance methods for one type of seed us ing a single bird species more often a bird species either regurgitates or def ecates seeds based on seed size. Recognizing that many factors can influe nce which bird species feed on which fruits (e.g., time of year ripening occurs, pr oximity to ground), it can be hypothesized that as a result of different voidance methods, plant population expans ion rates could be influenced by which bird species tend to feed on the fruits. The time of the year that ripe fruits are on the plant could influence the direction of seed dispersal. For example, a plant species whose fruits ripen in the spring may be most likely to experience a gradual northward populat ion shift due to the spring migration of millions of birds. It should be remembered that each bird carries seeds a small distance at a time (depending upon flight sp eed and duration of seed rete ntion), not for the thousands of miles of the whol e migration route. Seed Viability A mutualism between bird and plant only exists if a viable seed is dispersed. Seed viability may be affected by the digestion process, and the severity of damage may increase with the length of time a seed is retained in the bird’s digestive tract (Murray et al. 1994). Thus, there may be a trade-off for the plant between the distance seeds are carried prior to defecation (potentially impr oving seed dispersal), and the proportion of seed remaining viable (reduci ng viable seed dispersal).

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9 In addition to frugivorous birds feeding on fruit pulp, granivorous birds may feed on the seeds of fruits. The granivorous house finch ( Carpodacus mexicanus ) is historically a western U.S. species that expa nded its range into Florida following a 1940’s introduction into the northeastern U.S. While they are commonly observed feeding on fruits, often they are actually cracking the s eeds and feeding on the entire fruit (skin, pulp, and seeds). Similarly, with a gizzard that is capable of crushing pecans and acorns, wild turkeys ( Meleagris gallopavo ) and other members of the order Galliformes often digest the seeds passed through their digestive tracts. An observation of these species feeding on fruits can easily be misinterpreted as seed dispersal ra ther than the seed predation that it is. Observations of Bird Behavior A conclusive determination of endozoochor ic seed dispersal by birds requires verification that the seeds are ingested, carried away from the parent plant, and voided in a viable condition. Observation of only fru it or seed consumption does not distinguish between seed dispersal and seed preda tion (Meisenburg and Fox 2002). However, documentation of seedlings distant from th e rest of the plant population and in sites frequented by birds (e.g., under tree roosts, along fence lines) is an indication that bird dispersal is likely (McDonnell and Stiles 1983). Project Goals The goals of this study were to gain a greater understanding of coral ardisia reproductive phenology and to determine whether some bird species might have a role in dispersing viable seeds. The objectives of chapter two were to dete rmining when flowers, unripe, and ripe fruits first appear on plants, a nd then to determine their durat ion. Assessing fruit nutrient

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10 content to compare to native species was the objective of chapter three. Finally, the objectives of chapter four were to determine if birds would eat the fr uit of coral ardisia, conduct preference trials with other fruits, assess germinati on rates of voided seeds, and report on bird feeding activity in coral ardisia stands.

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11 CHAPTER 2 REPRODUCTIVE PHENOLOGY OF ARDISIA CRENATA Introduction The fruits of coral ardisia have been obs erved to persist for most of the year on plants in northern-central Flor ida (Dozier 1999). For this r eason it is often assumed that the fruits are rarely eaten by frugivores in Florida. Although it is possible that consumption rates are low, an alternative hypo thesis is that fruit production continues for much of the year and thus gives the app earance that fruits are not removed. If consumption of fruits is occurring, seasonal variation in fruit loss rate could implicate certain species as being major consumer s of the fruit. For example, Florida is a corridor to millions of migrating birds every spring and fall, and if these events were correlated to increased rates of fruit loss fr om plants, this would suggest consumption by migrants. If viable seeds are voided, high ra tes of fruit consumption could lead to high rates of seed dispersal. Fruit loss is the detachment of fruit from the plant, and this may be passive (e.g. senescence of peduncle) or active (i.e. removal by an animal). For the purposes of this study, mechanisms of fruit loss were not di fferentiated but the assumption is made that active removal may have accounted for some of the observed fruit loss. With regard to fruit loss, several factors were taken into account because they could influence fruit loss rates. One such factor is habitat (Denslow 1987, Gosper et al 2006), probably because different bird species (w ith their specific food preferences and nutritional needs) occur in different habitats Study sites were chosen in two habitats

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12 with significant coral ardisia populations: in tentionally-planted la ndscapes and near old homesites in natural ar eas with persisting co ral ardisia populations. It is possible that fruit height could influence loss rates. If this was the case, then certain types of dispersal agents may be implicated. For instance, some fruit-eating mammals are limited to foraging below a certa in height relative to their size (though woody, coral ardisia stems could only suppor t small mammals). The mammals that I considered to be potential consumers of ardi sia fruit were all mid-sized (mesomammals): red fox ( Vulpes vulpes ), gray fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteus ), raccoon ( Procyon lotor ), and Virginia opossum ( Didelphis virginiana ), and the assumption was made that they were unlikely to feed on fruits a bove 0.6 meters from the ground. Another factor in fruit loss rate is pl ant density. Denslow (1987) found that aggregated red elderberry ( Sambucus pubens ) plants had lower individual fruit removal rates than did isolated plants, and she hypot hesized that competition among plants for frugivores led to decreased fruit removal rate s for clumped plants. While recording data in the initial stages of this study, it appeared that the mo re isolated an ardisia plant was, the more quickly it lost its fruit. Conseque ntly, I monitored plants for fruits loss across densities from relatively isolated to growing within dense stands. The objectives of Chapter 2 were to de termine the dates of flower and fruit production, and the duration of ripe fruit pe rsistence on the plants as influenced by habitat, branch height, and plant density. Methods Site Descriptions Three sites were selected in Alachua Count y, Florida. The first was near Rocky Point Road, Gainesville, on Paynes Prairie St ate Preserve property (hereafter called

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13 PPSP), the second was east of Newnan’s Lake (on private property owned by University of Florida Botany Department professor Francis J. Putz) (Putz), and the last site included several residences around southwestern Gaines ville, Florida (City). Sites were selected on the basis of extensive ardisia infestat ions and permission to access the property. The PPSP site was located in a hardwood forest that was principally upland with seasonal wetlands. Upland trees included live oak ( Quercus virginiana ), laurel oak ( Quercus hemisphaerica ), Southern magnolia ( Magnolia grandiflora ), American holly ( Ilex opaca ), and coral ardisia. Wetlands were primarily red maple ( Acer rubrum ) and black gum ( Nyssa sylvatica ). The Putz site had experienced disturban ce from logging and turpentine production, and consequently had a successional forest comp onent. It contained liv e oak, laurel oak, sweet gum ( Liquidambar styraciflua ), loblolly pine ( Pinus taeda ), and American holly, and bordered a bayhead that contained sweetbay magnolia ( Magnolia virginiana ), loblolly bay ( Gordonia lasianthus ), and black gum. Coral ardisia was found throughout this site, but was most extensive in the successional forest. The City site was comprised of ardisia pl ants in landscaped locations, as well as plants in undeveloped wooded lots adjacent to the residences. The plants at the residences were intentional pl antings while the plan ts in the wooded lot appeared to be free-living and self sustaining populations, prob ably originating from the intentionallyplanted populations. Data Collection Field data were collected to determine reproductive phenology and rate of fruit loss. Phenological data consisted of recordin g when flowers, green (unripe) fruits, and red (ripe) fruits appeared on plants. On each sampling date, each individual plant was

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14 categorized according to the most advanced of the three stages of the flower/fruit cycle found. Following fruit maturation, periodic fruit counts were done to assess when plants lost their fruits. There was no distinction between those fruits that were removed by vertebrates and those that abscised naturally from the parent. Phenologic data were gather ed at the Putz and City sites during 2000 and 2001, and at PPSP during 2000. Fruit loss was followed at the Putz and City sites during 2001. Fruit loss was not followed at the PPSP s ite because a freeze in early January 2001 severely damaged previously tagged fruits and plants. I monitored plants at the Putz site alo ng on a 100-meter transect that encompassed several environmental variab les (canopy cover, wetland prox imity, and plant height and density). I stratified the tran sect into 10-meter sections because it was not practical to monitor all plants on the tran sect. Within each 10 x 1 me ter section I used computergenerated random numbers to select plants for monitoring purposes. On each selected plant I chose up to three branches for periodic fruit counts. Monitored plants in the City site were spread among four residences and an undeveloped wooded lot. The four reside nces were separated by a minimum of 100 meters. One residence had plants tagged in both the front and back yards, but no more than 15 plants were monitored in any one yard. Sixty plants were initially monitored for fruit loss at the City site, and 100 in the Putz site. Plants that died were excluded from analysis, and the final number of plants consisted of 54 at the City site and 91 at the Putz site. Some plant deaths occurred as a result of trees falling, mowing, whereas others were due to unknown causes.

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15 Two variables were recorded at Putz to determine if they influenced fruit loss rates: branch height and the density of ardisia surr ounding the plant being monitored. Branches were grouped into two groups: those above and those below 60 cm. I believe that this value was a reasonable maximum height for meso mammals to reach if eating the fruits. Plants were reported in three categories of density. “Minimal density” was 5 or fewer other ardisia plants within a 1-mete r radius, “moderate density” was 6-10 plants within a 1-meter radius, and “maximum density ” was >10 plants within a 1-meter radius. Generally, minimally-dense plants also ha d few other herbaceous or shrub species present, and bare soil was exposed on at le ast half of the 2-meter diameter circle. Moderately-dense plants usually contained laurel oak seedli ngs in the circles, and had little, if any, exposed soil. Ardisia plants in the densest circles usually had no other herbaceous or shrub species, and contained a considerable layer of forest duff. Data Analysis All fruit loss data were converted from actual numbers to percentages (as a change from initial counts) and then plotted as fruit loss over time. I used the PROCMIX statement in SAS statistical software (SAS Institute, version 8.2). I used logit transformation on the data transformation be cause the error variance was not constant, and logit was the appropriate transformation because the variance was dependent on the value of Y. Transformation produced linear eq uations where the slopes and Y-intercepts were compared for significance. Another statistical program, MATLAB (Mat hWorks Inc., version 6), was used to produce probability density function graphs that displayed the average rate of fruit loss at any given time for the three densities tested. These graphs are the derivatives of the fruit loss graphs.

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16 Results Flowering and Fruiting Phenology Ardisia flowered June through September, and peaked in late July-August (Figure 2-1). There were not sufficient replications for statistical testing, but monitoring multiple sites for multiple years indicated a trend for la ter flowering in 2000. In both years, a few City plants flowered earlie r than any other plants. Similar patterns existed for fruit production, as fruits appeared later in 2000 than in 2001, and emerged sooner on several city pl ants than other plan ts (Figure 2-2). Flowering on individual plants lasted 4 6 weeks, with green fruits becoming clearly visible 3 4 weeks later. Fruits began ripe ning in December, approximately four months after formation. It was mid-late January before all plants had mature fruit (Figure 2-2). Fruit Loss Some fruits remained on the plants for the duration of the 10-month sampling period, by which time the next season’s fru its were developing. Fruit loss at Putz appeared to be greatest between March and J une, while the City site appeared to have a more constant fruit loss rate (Figure 2-3). The loss rates were significantly different between sites, with plants at Putz losing fruits more quickly than those in the City (p = < 0.0001). The height of the branch above and below 60 cm did not influence fruit loss rate (p = 0.478, data not reported), but plant de nsity did (p = 0.0002), with minimally dense plants experiencing the shortest fru it retention times (Figure 2-4.). Probability density function graphs for the three densities (Figure 2-5) show average rate of fruit loss for the three densitie s tested. The peak of the curve represents the date of greatest fruit loss, and the end point is the expected date of fruit depletion. The end points were similar for minimal and moderate densities (161 and 165 days after

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17 ripening, respectively), but was much later (332 days) for the maximum density plants. The intervals between fruit loss rate peaks were similar between the minimal and moderate density plants (33 days) and between the moderate and maximum density plants (26 days). Discussion Fruiting Phenology The results support rejecting the constant fruit production hypothesis, as fruits ripened in late December and January and were retained on the plants for much of the year (Figure 2-1). The plasticity shown in the timing of plant reproduction (flowering, fruit production and maturation) dates among ye ars may be related to water stress. The spring of 2000 was considerably drier than 2001 in north-central Flor ida (Table 2-1), and flowering peaked 1-2 months later in 2000 (Fi gure 2-1). The notion th at water influenced flowering and fruiting dates is also supported by those City pl ants that flowered in May (sooner than any other monitored plants), beca use those few plants received water from sprinklers. Furthermore, plants at Putz gr owing close to the bayhead (where soil may have been wetter) also flowered earlier. On e problem with correlating flowering dates to rainfall is that it difficult to know when ra infall is most important. Pascarella (1998) found that while rainfall strongly influe nced flowering dates in the native Ardisia escallonoides in southern Florida, the implicated rainfall occurred during the previous rainy season. Fruit Loss Longetivity of fruit persistence Ardisia fruits persisted on the plant for up to ten months without decaying (Figure 2-3). Furthermore, on a few occasions (on unmonitored plants) I found fruits from the

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18 previous year in good condition still on the pl ant in January with the new crop of ripe fruits. The ability of fruits of many species to re sist decay and microbial attack has been correlated to the presence of secondary com pounds (Cipollini and Stiles 1992, Cipollini and Levey 1997a). These compounds are im portant because frugivores avoid eating infected fruits (Travaset et al. 1995, Garcia et al. 1999). However, the use of these compounds presents a paradox to plants: while vertebrates may select against infected fruits, they also prefer fruits from plant sp ecies that do not incorporate high levels of secondary compounds (Cipollini and Le vey 1997b, Levey and Cipollini 1998). The low rates of fruit consumption in the field for ardisia fruits by birds and mammals may be due to relatively high leve ls of secondary compounds, and the fruit’s apparent resistance to microbial at tack supports this hypothesis. Influence of fruit/plant presentation on loss rate The lack of a significant difference in fr uit loss rates for branches above and below 60 cm may indicate that mesomammalian consum ption of ardisia fruits in these sites is not common. This is supported by the lack of ardisia seeds found in mammal scat (see this study, Chapter 4). While plant density was negatively correlate d with fruit loss rate (Figure 2-4), a separate study would be needed to test for cause and effect. For example, ardisia may grow at lower densities where less tree cover leads to a drier microclimate, or in less fertile soils. If these conditions occur, they could result in plant stress that then causes a shorter duration of fruit retention. Without fruitfall traps to dis tinguish between removal and abscission, fruit fates c ould not be differentiated.

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19 Several studies (Manasse and Howe 1983, Sargent 1990) have examined whether fruit abundance in the immediate vicinity in fluences removal rate, while Denslow (1987) studied the effects of plant density on remova l rates. In conflicting results, Sargent (1990) found that greater fruit abundance e nhanced removal rates while Manasse and Howe (1983) found lower fruit abundance led to higher removal rates. Both the Sargent and Manasse and Howe studies measured the fruit abundance in the immediate area, but my variable of interest was plant spacing and not fruit abundance. It is possible that both factors (numbers of fruits and plants in an area) can influence fruit removal rates from individual plants. Either th rough attracting more frugivores to the immediate vicinity or competing among each other for frugivores, th e likelihood of an individual fruit being consumed may be influenced by neighborhood effects. Another possibility is that increased plant density could obstruct the birds’ views while they are searching for fruits. Denslow (1987) tested the effects of plan t density on fruit removal rates, and found that the more isolated a plant was, the greater the fruit loss rate. Her findings agree with this study, and her interpreta tion was that competition for frugivores is greatest among bushes in close proximity to one another. Denslow studied plants growing in forest clearings along a river where the separate popula tions were not within sight of each other. My study differed in that the plants were all within a single popul ation thus giving the frugivores the ability to choose the fruit from the plant that offered the preferred density of surrounding vegetation. At the Putz site different animal species may have been selecting for different plant densities. There were many observations of fruits th at were partially depulped while still on the plants, suggesting that sm all rodents (e.g. cotton mice, Peromyscus gossypinus ) are

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20 responsible for at least some fruit loss. In a pattern suggesting mouse consumption, depulping was usually in a circular pattern fr om the middle of the fruit cluster, where only the tops of the fruits were depulped. I also found rodent feeding platforms where ardisia fruits had been depulpe d, leaving piles of skins a nd seeds. These observations seemed more prevalent in the minimal-density plants, and appeared more often in April and May. This period coincides with a dr y period in Florida (Table 2-1), and a hypothesis is that the mammals were using the fruits as a source of water. After losing their moisture-retaining pulp and skin, the s eeds of many of these fruits shriveled and became hard, and probably lost viability. Proba bly due to their small size and ability to climb, feeding evidence from small mammals was found in all but the tallest ardisia plants. Investigation of mammalian consumpti on and the causes of different fruit loss rates among different plant densities would be interesting areas for further research. Not only would this mechanism of fruit loss app ear no have no effect on long distance seed dispersal, but introduces a possi ble source of seed loss. Another alternative hypothesis is that a bird species that I had not considered is responsible for the fruit loss in le ss dense plants. Wild turkey ( Meleagris gallopavo ) eat fruit when available (Martin et al. 1951), a nd could choose fruits from isolated plants over those in dense clusters to re duce the risk of predation. Seasonality of Fruit Loss The increase in fruit loss rate at Putz be tween March and June (Figure 2-5) may be due to migrating birds, because this period coincides with spring migration (Stevenson and Anderson 1994). That the quieter, less human-visited Putz site experienced this increased rate and not the City site could be due to habitat preferen ces of shy, frugivorous bird species bird specie s (such as gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis ).

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21 Fruit removal rates may also be influenced by the flocking tendencies of different bird species. At San Felasco Hammock Stat e Preserve just north of Gainesville, FL, Skeate (1987) censused bird numbers through th e year and assessed their usage of native fruits. Although he considered American Robins ( Turdus migratorius ) and Cedar Waxwings ( Bombycilla cedrorum ) to be common in the winter and spring, their numbers were erratic. These two highly frugivorous spec ies often travel together in large flocks, and exhaust local fruit resources before m oving on to another area (Skeate 1987, personal observation). Thus, fruit removal rates from these two species should show steep declines in relatively short periods of time, such as between my sampling dates. This was not observed in my study. Skeate (1987) categorized the native fles hy-fruit producing plants according to when their fruits matured, and he found only f our of 45 species fruited in winter. These were American holly ( Ilex opaca ), laurel cherry ( Prunus caroliniana ), American olive ( Osmanthus americanus ), and mistletoe ( Phoradendron leucarpum ). It is interesting to note that these four species shared the traits of being evergreen, and having fruits with high persistence and low rates of spoilage. Ardi sia is also a winter-fruiting plant that has those same qualities. Skeate (1987) speculated that the fruit’s abil ity to persist on the plant for long periods without spoiling was a coevolved relationship between the plants and the erratic behavior of the robins and waxw ings that feed so heavily on those fruits. If they are not depleted by wintering birds, fr uits of these species will persist into spring migration times (personal observation). The ability of coral ardisia to retain its fruits for long peri ods is a trait that has been found with other introduced pl ants (White and Stiles 1992, Bartuszevige and Gorchov

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22 2006). The majority of native species set fruit in the fall, a period that coincides with fall migration. Due to high consumption rates, th ese native fruits are considered to be very important to birds (Stiles 1980) with most usag e occurring in late fall and winter. White and Stiles (1992), and Bartuszevige and Go rchov (2006) also concluded that if not removed from plants, the fruits of introduced species tended to pe rsist for long periods without deteriorating. Howeve r, this quality may not reflect any taxonomic relationships, but rather selection by humans for particular landscaping features. For instance, if having persistent berries is not a common winter trait for plants, humans may select those species that have this feature. Indeed, this trait could have also increased the use of ardisia as a landscape plan t (Kitajima et al. 2006). In conclusion, ardisia flowered in the su mmer, peaking in July or August. There was some variation among years that was possibl y due to water availability. Green fruits became visible 3 to 4 weeks following flowering, and took about four months to ripen. All fruits ripened in the wint er, and ripening peaked in Janua ry. Fruits usually lasted on the plants through the summer, and some remain ed into October. Plant density affected loss rates, with the more densely growing plan ts retaining fruits for longer periods. Branch height did not affect loss rates. Ther e were differences in fruit loss rates among sites, with the natural sites losing fruits more quickly than those in the city. The use of fruitfall traps to distinguish between active a nd passive loss would be a useful next study.

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23 City020 40 60 80 100 2000 2001 Putz020 40 60 80 100 2000 2001 PPSP020 40 60 80 100d a t e5 / 2 8 6 / 1 1 6 / 2 57 / 97 / 2 38 / 68 / 2 09 / 39 / 1 7 2000 Figure 2-1. Flowering dates of Ardisia crenata

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24 City020 40 60 80 100 unripe 2000 ripe 2000 unripe 2001 ripe 2001 PPSP020 40 60 80100d a t e 6 / 4 6 / 2 5 7 / 1 6 8 / 6 8 / 2 7 9 / 1 7 1 0 / 8 1 0 / 2 9 1 1 / 1 9 1 2 / 1 0 1 / 1 1 / 2 2 unripe ripe Putz 020 40 60 80 100 unripe-2000 ripe-2000 unripe-2001 ripe-2001 Figure 2-2. Ardisia crenata fruit production dates for thr ee populations. Values on the Y-axes represent the % of mon itored plants at that stage.

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25 020 40 60 80 100 12012/302/184/95/297/189/610/26Date% f r u i t r e m a i n i n g Putz City Figure 2-3. Fruit losses from Ardisia crenata plants at two sites during 2001. Error bars represent standard errors. 020 40 60 80100 1201/151/292/283/315/76/17/37/319/110/5date% f r u i t r e m a i n i n g Minimal Moderate Maximum Figure 2-4. The loss rates of Ardisia crenata fruits at Putz during 2001. The three lines represent loss rates for three densities of A. crenata plants. Error bars show 95% confidence intervals.

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26 spacing curve peak line end minimal 55 161 moderate 88 165 maximum 114 332 Figure 2-5. Probability de nsity function graphs for Ardisia crenata fruit loss rates at three different densities of plants; A) minimal, B) moderate, and C) maximum. The values given at the t op of each graph are the coefficients for the quadratic equation. Values on the X-axis are the number of days since fruit ripening. Peak curve values are when fruit losses are greatest, and the end of the line is the estimated last day of fruit persistence. A B C

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27 Table 2-1. Rainfall levels for Gainesville, FL (units are inches). 2000 Amount 2001 Amount Average Amount January 3.17 January 0.80 January 2.60 February 0.69 February 0.91 February 3.27 March 2.13 March 5.36 March 4.11 April 0.92 April 1.01 April 3.48 May 0.51 May 1.36 May 3.72 June 5.78 June 10.83 June 6.64 Total 13.2 20.27 23.82 It is not known how many years data collecti on constitute averages (Gainesville Sun, June 30, 2002).

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28 CHAPTER 3 NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF Ardisia crenata FRUITS Introduction As a means to achieve seed dispersal, many plants have evolved fleshy fruits. Most fruits adapted for vertebrate consumption consis t of seed(s), pulp, and skin, with the pulp (and to a lesser extent the skin) providing a nutritional reward to dispersers. Although invertebrates may occasionally be involved (K aufmann et al. 1991), this type of seed dispersal is usually carried out by vertebrates. The nutritional value of fleshy fruits is us ually assessed by measuring protein, lipid, and carbohydrate levels (Stiles 1980), and st udies have found that levels of these nutrients can help to explain the choices ma de by birds when selecting among the fruits of different plant species (Johnson et al. 1985, Lepczyk et al. 2000). Another factor that can influence fruit choices by birds is the seed load. Seed load is the proportion of fruit mass that is undigest ible seed, and not surprisingly, birds may prefer fruits with lower seed loads (H owe & Vande Kerckhove 1981, Stanley & Lill 2002, Russo 2003). The research described in Chapter 3 assesse d the nutritional conten t of coral ardisia fruits and compared the results to other fruit species that represent alternative choices for birds in northern Florida. If ardisia is obviously nutritionally deficient, it may help to explain the low rate of fruit consumption by birds.

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29 Methods Fruits were gathered from two populations on the University of Florida campus near Bivens Arm Lake and Lake Alice duri ng May of 2002. Following collection, fruits were weighed and measured with calipers (n = 58). Pulp and skin were manually separated from seeds to calculate seed load and to determine lipid, soluble carbohydrate, and protein levels of the pulp and skin. S eeds were not included in the nutritional analyses because they were not digested during the bird feeding trials (Chapter 4). Fruit skin is commonly not digested, but after examin ing feces from feeding trials (Chapter 4), it appeared that much of the skin was at leas t partially digested. Consequently, fruit skins were included in the nutrient analyses. Fruit material was freeze-dried to a constant mass. Freeze-drying was used rather than heat drying because high temperatures have been shown to influence the results of nutritional analyses (Mary Beth Hall, De partment of Animal Sciences, personal communication). Moisture content of fruits was calculate d using the formula: (dry weight / wet weight) x 100. Samples for lipid analyses were not ground. Samples for protein and carbohydrate estimates were ground in a Wiley mill with a 1 mm screen. Material was mixed together and subsampled for nutrition an alyses. Three replicates were used for the lipid analysis and five replicates each for protein and carbohydrates. Lipid content was assessed using the et her extraction method in which fruit material (pulp and skin) is dried, weighed, soaked in ether 6-8 hours, dried, and reweighed. The difference in weight is due to the movement of lipids into the ether. The amount of protein was cal culated from nitrogen le vels using the Kjeldahl extraction method (Association of Official Ag ricultural Chemists 1980) with a boric acid

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30 modification during distillation, and a convers ion factor of 6.25 to calculate protein (Pierce and Haenisch 1947). Carbohydrate analysis was performed using an 80:20 ethanol/water solution to remove sugars, which are ethanol-soluble. Enzymatic analysis was performed on the residues to estimate starch content. Carbohydr ates are reported as TESC (Total Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates). The carbohydrates meas ured in this analysis include monoand oligosaccharides (Hall et al. 1999). Unless otherwise specified, data are presented as a percentage of dry matter. Results Fruit measurements and nutritional data are presented in Table 3-1. The fruits of coral ardisia averaged 8.9 mm in diameter (s d = 0.41 mm). The average fresh weight of whole fruits was 244.4 mg (sd = 60.74) with a mean seed mass of 91.4 mg (sd = 24.73), resulting in an average seed lo ad of 37.6 %. Pulp and skin of fresh fruits averaged 88.5 percent water content (sd = 2.42). The lipid analysis found 8 percent (sd = 3.61) of dry matter was due to lipid weight. Crude protein levels were calculated to be 3.7 percent (sd = 0.09), and carbohydrate levels to be 47.8 percent (sd = 0.55). Finding nutrient deficiencies may suggest w hy birds rarely eat th e fruits of coral ardisia. To put the fruit nutritional data into context, I included data for other (native) species from White (1989) (Table 3-2). White (1989) did not provide intraspecific statistical data (i.e. means and error terms). The values in Table 3-3 are means for the native species listed, grouped together by seas onality. White (1989) also did not include seeds with his nutritional analyses. However, other authors have not made that claim (e.g. Stiles 1980), and failure to omit seeds may affect nutritional anal yses with that part of the fruit that is not typically digested. Monoand disaccharide concentrations from

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31 White (1989) were reported in the pr esent study as carbohydrate levels, and the differences in fruit dry mass are probably attributable to indigestible, structural carbohydrates. Discussion When foraging for fruits, birds often have multiple plant speci es available from which to choose. Patterns emerge as they c onsistently choose fruits of some plant species over others. While the choices can be obser ved and the preferences reported, explaining why the selections are made is not easy. To determine some of the factors involved in fruit choice, birds can be captured and fed ar tificial fruits where a single variable of interest is manipulated. Stanley and Lill (2002) fed birds translucen t artificial fruits containing either a single large or no plastic bead (which simulated a seed). The authors found that the birds showed a strong preference for fruits that cont ained no bead. The coral ardisia seed load value of 37.6% was within the range of 10.5% to 68.0% for winter fruits from native species (Table 3-2), and was very similar to th e mean seed load for winter fruits (Table 33). All of the species listed for spring/sum mer are probably eaten with greater frequency than is ardisia (personal observation), and all of those species have lower seed loads than ardisia. Conversely, poison ivy fruits are produced in winter and readily consumed by birds despite a seed load of 68.0%, a trait perhap s overridden by its 47.2% lipid value. Many fruits that ripen in the fall are high in lipids, and because this period coincides with fall migration it is assumed that this represents an advancement of the bird-fleshy fruit relationship by meeting the metabolic demands of migration with high-energy, lipid-rich fruits (Stiles 1980). Thus, high-lipid fruits ar e some of the most sought after fruits in the

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32 fall. In addition to this temporal-related tre nd, certain fruit selections may also be on an avian taxonomic level, such as the high-lip id fruit preference exhibited by thrushes (Witmer and Van Soest 1998). Lipid content of coral ardisia fruits (8.0 %) falls within the extremes of winter (0.7% to 45.2%) and spring/summer (0.2% to 19.1%) native fruit species (Table 3-2). Lipid values for coral ardisia are less than the mean value for winter fruits, but greater than the mean lipid value for spring/summer fru its (Table 3-3). It is interesting to note that coral ardisia has a 10-fold greater lipid value than American holly, and the holly is probably the most preferred nati ve winter species of those listed (personal observation). My observation of American Robins strippi ng American hollies of their fruits and ignoring the equally abundant coral ardisia fr uits (Chapter 4) suggests that despite the higher lipid values of coral ardisia, ot her factors influence fruit selection. The protein content in ardisia fruits (3.7 %) falls within the extremes of winter (1.9% to 6.2%) and spring/summer (2.2% to 9.8%) native fruit species (Tables 3-2), suggesting that low protein levels is not why birds do not consume ardisia fruits. Similarly, the carbohydrate content in ardisia fruits (47.8%) falls within the range of winter (0.0% to 52.0%) and spring/summer (38.3% to 83.3%) fruits (Tables 3-2 and 3-3). Carbohydrate content may not be very useful for predicting winter fruit usage, as the species with the highest content (gallberry) retains it s fruits for months with seemingly little consumption by birds, and th e species with no carbohydrates (poison ivy) often has its fruits removed quickly. Lepcz yk et al. (2000) found that American Robins preferred high-sugar, low-lipid fruits in su mmer, but changed their preferences to lowsugar, high-lipid fruits in autumn.

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33 It is difficult to draw any firm conclu sions about the effect s of coral ardisia’s nutritional components on avian fruit preferen ces when compared to native species, because some of those species are more-or less-preferred over others (though probably all would be favored over ardisia fruits). For exam ple, of the winter fruits listed in Table 32, greenbrier and gallberry are rarely eaten whereas American holly and red cedar are consumed by birds much more frequently (personal observation). Without a ranking of the preference values for the native species lis ted in Table 3-2, those data should only be used to gauge the variability and “average” of fruit nutritional values. There are no obvious qualities with regard to seed load or nutritional content that would explain why birds rarely eat coral ardisia fruits. However, the ability of the fruits to resist decay suggests high levels of s econdary metabolites (Chapter 2), which have been shown to deter fruit consumption (Ci pollini and Levey 1997b, Levey and Cipollini 1998). To estimate protein using the Kjeldahl ex traction method (Association of Official Agricultural Chemists 1980), nitrogen is m easured and then multiplied with a conversion factor of 6.25. This conversion factor was derived from animal-based samples, where all nitrogen is associated with protein. However, while this factor is also used to estimate protein levels in plant-based samples, pl ants can contain nitrogen-based secondary compounds. Thus, it is possible to over-estim ate the amount of protein in a sample of plant material if a 6.25 conversion factor is used. Levey et al. (2000) calculated conversion factors for fruits of 18 plant spec ies in the southeastern United States, including coral ardisia. These authors determ ined that the correct conversion factor for estimating protein levels in coral ardisia fr uits is 6.28 (corrected conversion factors

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34 ranged from 3.11 to 6.77). This value is ne arly identical to that for animal-based samples, and suggests that any secondary compounds present in coral ardisia do not contain high levels of nitrogen. Based on the measured characteristics of the fruit size, seed load, and nutrient content, there is no reason to believe that birds would not eat coral ardisia fruits if provided no alternatives. Nor are there any obvious characteristics measured here that would lead us to expect that coral ardisia would not be preferred over many other fruits.

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35 Table 3-1. Data for coral ardisia fruits (mean s and standard deviati ons). Percentages of nutrient data are on a dry matter basis. n meansd fruit diameter (mm) 50 8.9 0.41 fruit mass (mg) 100244.260.74 seed mass (mg) 10091.4 24.73 seed load (%) 10037.6 5.17 moisture (%) 88.5 2.42 lipids (%) 3 8.0 3.61 ash (%) 2 5.3 protein (%) 5 3.7 0.09 total ethanol-soluble carbohydrates (%) 5 47.8 0.55 starch (%) 5 16.3 0.14 free glucose (%) 5 18.1 0.15

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36 Table 3-2. Nutritional data for fruits availa ble in northern Florida natural areas, grouped together by season. Fruits from coral ardisia are generally available winter through summer; values of fall fruits were included as a reference. Data for all species other than coral ardisia are from White (1989). Species season fruit mass (mg) seed mass (mg) seed load (%) water (%) lipid (%) protein (%) CHO (%) Ardisia crenata coral ardisia w/s/s/f 244.2 91.4 37.6 88.5 8.0 3.7 47.8 Ilex glabra gallberry w 181.4 3.4 10.5 68.6 0.7 1.9 52.0 Ilex opaca American holly w 281.7 15.8 23.6 56.0 0.8 4.9 49.2 Juniperus virginiana red cedar w 46.3 9.4 25.1 48.4 7.2 3.8 41.7 Rhus coppalina winged sumac w 20.7 12.9 62.3 26.0 15.8 2.9 3.4 Smilax rotundifolia greenbrier w 241.6 35.4 38.1 74.9 0.1 6.2 17.7 Toxicodendron radicans poison ivy w 21.9 14.9 68.0 3.6 47.2 2.0 0.0 Gaylussacia frondosa blue huckleberry s/s 285.2 1.6 5.7 82.8 1.2 2.1 82.3 Morus rubra red mulberry s/s 780.1 1.6 3.9 85.6 1.1 5.9 66.4 Phytolacca americana pokeweed s/s 395.3 8.5 20.5 83.6 1.0 9.8 38.3 Prunus serotina black cherry s/s 613.4 108.9 17.8 77.5 0.4 3.9 62.0 Rubus cuneifolius sand blackberry s/s 915.3 2.3 7.7 88.9 0.2 5.8 67.0 Sambucus canadensis elderberry s/s 78.8 2.2 10.7 87.8 19.1 4.9 43.9 Vaccinium corymbosum highbush blueberry s/s 425.5 0.9 3.0 84.3 0.8 4.9 49.2

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37 Table 3-2 continued Species season fruit mass (mg) seed mass (mg) seed load (%) water (%) lipid (%) protein (%) CHO (%) Arisaema triphyllum jack-in-thepulpit f 257.8 72.2 39.2 83.3 0.4 5.8 27.5 Aronia arbutifolia red chokeberry f 293.5 11.5 10.2 73.8 0.4 4.4 12.5 Cornus amomum swamp dogwood f 203.2 42.9 21.1 78.8 2.0 4.8 54.8 Crataegus crusgalli cockspur haw f 786.2 80.9 20.6 68.9 0.9 2.4 30.7 Euonymus americana hearts-abustin’with-love f 51.2 19.4 37.9 77.5 7.0 8.2 37.3 Lindera benzoin spicebush f 371.1 141.8 38.2 81.5 34.6 11.9 12.0 Magnolia grandiflora Southern magnolia f 135.9 56.1 41.3 41.7 36.7 5.2 23.6 Nyssa sylvatica black gum f 433.4 128.2 29.6 73.4 14.8 3.6 45.6 Table 3-3. The means and standard deviations per season of the fruit nutrient data from Table 3-2. seed load lipids protein carbohydrates coral ardisia 37.6 (5.17) 8.0 (3.61) 3.7 (0.09) 47.8 (0.55) winter 37.9(22.89) 12.0(18.28) 3.6(1.70) 27.3(23.26) spring / summer 9.9 (6.85) 3.4 (6.93) 5.3 (2.36) 58.4 (15.39) fall 29.8 (11.76) 11.7 (16.52) 6.1 (3.09) 28.3 (14.87)

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38 CHAPTER 4 CONSUMPTION OF ARDISIA CRENATA FR UIT BY BIRDS AND THEIR ROLE IN SUBSEQUENT SEED DISPERSAL Introduction Two traits are evident in coral ardisia popul ations: fruits persist on the plant for a long time (up to a year, as per Chapter 2) a nd the ground beneath mature plants is often covered with seedlings (up to 300 stems per m2, Kitajima et al 2006). These observations suggest that rates of both fruit consumption and seed dispersal are low. In spite of this, the plant has become invasive, signifying that at least some successful seed dispersal is occurring. In some locations, ardisia’s disp ersal is probably anthropogenic, but this does not account for the plant’s presence in more remote natural areas. The fruit’s bright red color and subsequent high visibility suggests bird dispersal of the seeds is likely. Mammals, most of wh ich are color blind, tend to feed on odorous fruits (Van der Pijl 1972). Furthermore, fruits that utilize mammals for seed dispersal are usually sweet-tasting (Van der Pijl 1972), and fall to the ground soon after ripening (Stiles 1980). Using both field observations a nd laboratory experiments, the intent of the present study was to evaluate birds as dispersal agents of ardisia. Field observations consisted of monitoring bird activity when working in ardisia stands during the collection of plant data (Cha pter 2). Laboratory experiments consisted of: 1) determining if certain frugivorous bird s would indeed eat the fruits, 2) measuring their preference for ardisia fruits compared to another native fruit, and 3) assessing any effects of consumption on seed viability. If successful, the methods from these feeding

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39 and germination trials would be used to devel op a protocol to further assess birds as seed dispersal agents of other introduced plants. Methods Field Observations While collecting the life-hi story data reported in Chapter 2, approximately 100 hours of field observations were conducted to document birds feeding on the fruits of both ardisia and native species. Although fruit traits do not suggest mammalian consumption, it does not mean that it can be ruled out. Consequently mammal scat found near ardisia stands was examined for ardisia seeds. Selection of Birds for Experiments Because coral ardisia fruits ripen in the winter and most persist through the spring (Chapter 2), the bird species chosen for feedi ng trials were those that were considered to be the greatest fruit consumers during this peri od in northern Florida (Table 4-1). They included Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), American Robin (Turdus migratorius), Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), and Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). Two other frugivorous species we re tested (European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and Fish Crow (Corvis ossifragus)) because they were already available in captivity where the feeding trials were conducted. The remaini ng four native bird species were captured using mist-nets at several loca tions in Alachua County. Captive Feeding Trials Captive feeding trials were performed at the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center, in Gainesville, Florida. The Eur opean Starlings, Gray Catbirds, and Northern Mockingbirds were housed and tested in individual cages measuring 18 inches x 18 inches x 18 inches. The Fish Crows were hous ed and tested in cages measuring 10 feet

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40 long x 10 feet wide x 6 feet high. American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were held in the larger cages until they acclimated to capti vity, and then were placed in the smaller cages for individual testing. While in captivity, birds were fed a mainte nance diet of moistened Purina kitten chow, fly pupae, and fruit. Several species of fruits were offered including both wild and cultivated species. The fruit were never of th e same species used as control fruits tested for that bird species. This was done because fruits contain secondary metabolites that may affect consumption rates (Levey and Cipollini 1998, Cipollini and Levey 1997a, 1997b, 1997c). Northern Mockingbirds were the quickest to acclimate, and would often begin feeding within an hour. American Robins and Cedar Waxwings took the longest to acclimate, and one Cedar Waxwing died after not feeding for the first three days. To entice birds to eat during acclimation, birds were often given a branch of a native plant that held fruits. It was found that presenting food that the birds may have been feeding on—and in a manner that they were accustomed to—helped their acclimatization. Before undergoing feeding trials, birds had to show th at they would feed from cups suspended from the sides of the cages. The European Starlings and Fish Crows had been in captivity for some time and were already feed ing freely. Birds were housed individually and could not see each other while in the test cages. Testing lasted for three days. On the first day, birds were offered the fruits of a native species that would later act as a cont rol fruit during preference trials. The purpose was to ensure that the birds being tested would eat the fruit of that plant species. On day two, birds were offered coral ardisia fruits only. If birds failed to consume fruits on

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41 either of these two days, they would not procee d to the choice test a nd would be released. In the choice test on the third day, birds were offered equal numbers of test fruits (ardisia) along with control fruits, and the remaining fruits were counted hourly to determine which fruit species the birds preferred. Th e number of birds tested for each species ranged from five to ten. During testing, food from the previous night was removed at 0730 hours, and birds were without food for one hour. Test fruits were placed in cups from 0830 until 1230. Twenty fruits of each species were placed in the same dish, and counted hourly for a total of five times (t = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4). If the birds ate all fruits before 1230, no additional fruit was provided and maintenance diet was placed b ack into cage. Birds often dropped fruits during the trials, and many fell outside of the ca ge. During the hourly counts, these fruits were returned to the feeding cups and listed as fruits remaining. Failure to return these fruits would have led to an over-estimation of fruits consumed. For some birds, a video camera was used to observe fruit handling during feeding trials. Voided ardisia seeds were gathered to assess germination rates. Seeds were placed in petri dishes between two sheets of filter paper, wetted with deionized water, and put into germination chambers. The conditions in these chambers were 12 hours of light per day with temperature during the light period set at 25 C and 15 C during darkness. No more than 100 seeds from each bird species were evaluated, and no more than twenty seeds went into a single petri dish. Selection of Native Plants for Experiments The initial protocol called for th e fruits of American holly (Ilex opaca) to be used as the native (control) fruits for preference tria ls. American holly grew naturally at two

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42 of the field sites and fruited at the same time of the year as ardisia, and thus served as an alternative fruit choice similar in size and color to ardisia. Because it was not known if European Star lings would eat American holly fruits, and because they were mainly used for protoc ol evaluation, the fruits of camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora), sometimes eaten by starlings, were selected for use as the control fruits for European Starling testing. American Robins arrived in Alachua C ounty early during the winter of 2000-2001, which may have been due to very low temperatur es earlier than usual. After their arrival into the county, it became difficult to find fruits on American holly trees. While American holly fruits were used for the Am erican Robin feeding trials, alternative fruit species for all other birds had to be found. In selecting alternative control fruits, species were chosen that shared fruiting periods with ardisia (i.e. winter, spring), and those that I knew were eaten by the relevant bird species. The fruits chosen for Cedar Waxwing were those from East Palatka hollies (Ilex x attenuata). This tree is commonly used for la ndscaping around North Central Florida, and like American holly, has red fruits winter through summer if they are not removed by birds. East Palatka holly is a hybrid between dahoon (Ilex cassine) and American holly. Fruit choice for Gray Catbirds was Godfrey’s privet (Forestiera godfreyi), a native shrub whose springtime fruits are often eaten by Gray Catbirds (personal observation). Fruit choice for Northern Mockingbirds and Fish Crows was highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). This commercially-important species also occurs naturally, and both of these bird species are known to eat the fruits in commercial groves (Mike Avery, USDA, personal communication).

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43 Data Analysis Data from choice test feeding trials were analyzed using GENMOD in SAS statistical software (SAS Institute, versi on 8.2). Data were logit transformed and Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) (A gresti 1996) were estimated. These GEE estimates were the slope estimates of control and test results, and the slopes were then tested for significance from each other. Signi ficant differences meant that the bird species being tested chose one fruit species over another. Results Field Observations In December of 2000, a flock of about 40 Amer ican Robins come into the Putz site. The birds gorged themselves on American holly fruits, and most of the birds departed when the fruits were depleted. A couple of birds remained for several days and fed on what appeared to be the less desirable fruits of a Smilax spp. and American olive (Osmanthus americanus) until these fruits, too, were exhausted. There were numerous ardisia plants with ripe fruits in the area, but no robins were ever seen feeding on ardisia fruits. In the second half of April 2002 at the Putz site, several Gray Catbirds were observed consuming ardisia fruits. There we re about sixteen birds on three acres of ardisia plants, and each bird appeared to swa llow approximately three fruits every six to fifteen minutes. This was the only time out of two and a half years (three spring migrations) that Gray Catbirds were observe d in the ardisia stands, and Gray Catbirds were the only species observed to feed on ardisia fruits in the field. Outside the study sites, I found regurgitated ardisia seeds under a Northern Mockingbird song perch at Carr Hall on the Un iversity of Florida campus, and was told

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44 of a Northern Mockingbird eating fruits dur ing an especially cold winter evening (Carmine Lanciani, Zoology Department, University of Florida, personal communication). Finally, the founder of Birdsong Nature Center in Thomasville, Georgia, reported a single occurrence of a fl ock of Cedar Waxwings feeding on the fruits of coral ardisia at the center (Kathleen Brady, Birdsong Nature Center, personal communication). Mammal scat in the vicinity of the field sites often contained the seeds of other plants, but none contained ardisia seeds. On a single occasion I did find ardisia seeds in mammal feces, but not at any study site. Feeding Trials All six bird species consumed native and ardisia fruits during the no choice trials. Fish Crows were the most reluctant species to consume fruit, where only five of ten birds consumed ardisia fruit during no choice trials Therefore, only five Fish Crows were used for the preference (choice) trials. Simila rly, while five Gray Catbirds passed the no choice test, one of them ate nothi ng during the preference trials. European Starling (Figure 4-1) and gray catbird (Figure 4-2) displayed no taste preference between control and test fruits (Table 4-2). The remaining four species, Northern Mockingbird (Figure 4-3), Amer ican Robin (Figure 4-4), Cedar Waxwing (Figure 4-5), and Fish Crow (Figure 4-6), s howed significant preference for control fruits (Table 4-2). These four species ate few ardisi a fruits until all the control fruits had gone. Germination rates for voided seeds from Gray Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds, American Robins, and Cedar Waxwings did not differ from manually depulped seeds (Table 4-3). Consumption by Fish Crows did significantly decrease seed germination (p 0.05, Fischer’s chi-square test) (Table 4-3) probably due to seed coat damage that was

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45 incurred while attempting to depulp seeds with their beaks. Germination rates for seeds voided by European Starling were not determined. All bird species swallowed ardisia fru its whole, and it appeared all species regurgitated seeds, with the exception of Ce dar Waxwings, which defecated seeds. In addition to swallowing whole fruits, some Fish Crows also attempted to manually separate fruit pulp from the seed in a technique known as mashing (Moermond and Deslow 1985). However, because the fruits of ardisia have pulp that tightly adheres to the seed, they were not very successful. Some fruits had no pulp removed while others were partially depulped, but none were comple tely depulped through mashing. The only seeds that were completely depulped by the Fi sh Crows were those that were done so in their crops. Of these, the five birds comp letely depulped only 29 seeds (Table 3-2), and of those, a single bird was responsible for 17 seeds. Discussion Field Observations When the American Robins exhausted the American holly fruits at the Putz site, they had two choices: either remain and feed on less-preferred fruits, or leave the site to forage for alternate food sources. Two individuals chose the former alternative, but most of the birds made the latter choice. Even fo r the two robins that remained, ardisia fruits were ignored. The observation of Gray Catbirds feed ing on ardisia occurred during spring migration, a period when only three native plan ts were observed to produce fruits. These include Godfrey’s privet, red mulberry (Morus rubra), and blackberry spp. (Rubus sp.). However, like ardisia, winter-fruiting species retained fruits if they had not been removed by birds. These included East Palatka holly trees in urban communities where frugivores

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46 were less common and a single American holly whose fruits the birds did not eat. It appeared that red mulberry and Godfrey’s privet in Alachua County did not produce fruit in 2002, possibly due to a late ha rd freeze (18.8 F) on February 28 (http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/) that may have dama ged the plants. Red mulberry produces one of the most frequently bird-consumed fruits in Alachua County (personal observation), and I have seen Gray Catbirds eating unripe red mulberry fruits while ignoring abundant and ripe ardisia fruits on the University of Florida campus. The choice of Gray Catbirds to feed on ardisia fruits during the spring of 2002 at the Putz site may have been related to the apparent crop failure of Godfrey’s priv et and red mulberry in Alachua County. If crop failure in other plant species forced Gray Catbirds to eat more ardisia fruits than normal in spring 2002, then my observations may not be indicative of a typical year. Coral ardisia grows in dense patches of hardwood forest understory, a habitat it shares with its analogous congener in s outhern Florida, shoebutton ardisia (A. elliptica). Similarly, shoebutton ardisia’s primary disp erser seems to be Gray Catbirds (Koop 2004), and during spring migration (Tony Koop, personal communication). Gray Catbirds often remaining in dense low-growing vegetation. Th ey are common in winter in Florida, and waves of migrants come through northern Florida from mid-April through mid-May (http://myfwc.com/bba/GRCA.htm). Stragglers linger into June. Research discussed in Chapter 2 showed that fruits of coral ardisia can be expected on plants January through October. Fruit loss rates increased in March and continued through June, with loss rates peaking April through early May. This loss rate is consistent with populations of Gray Catbirds in northern Florida. Most American Robins leave Florida in February, with far fewer numbers remaining into March. Cedar

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47 Waxwings begin leaving in April, although stragglers linger into May. Skeate (1987) found that winter flocks of American Robi ns and Cedar Waxwings in northern Florida were nomadic, remaining in an area as long as fruit were present, and then dispersing to other areas. Based on fruit loss rates, it woul d not appear that American Robins or Cedar Waxwings are responsible for much of the coral ardisia fruit loss. The observations of Cedar Waxwings eating ardisia at Birdsong Nature Center fruits may be considered atypical behavior. Kathleen Brady reported that their ardisia plants grow under scattered mature trees, a habitat different from that normally invaded by ardisia: a closed-canopy forest (persona l communication). Lima (1993) argued that birds choose habitats based upon their escape tact ics from predators. He described Cedar Waxwing’s escape strategy as aerial, and my observations of Cedar Waxwings being attacked by a merlin (Falco columbarius) while mist-netting support this. Based on Lima’s reasoning, Cedar Waxwings might avoid the forest understory where their escape routes would be compromised. Kaoru Kitajima (Botany Department, University of Florida) observed that rates of fruit loss in coral ardisia’s native range (Jap an) appeared to be greater than those in northern Florida (personal communication, unpublished data). In Japan, Brown-eared bulbuls (Hypsipetes amaurotis) are known to consume the fruit of ardisia, but other Asian forest-interior bird species, such as the pale thrush (Turdus pallidus), may consume the fruits as well (K. Kitajima, personal co mmunication). Brown-eared bulbuls are the family Pycnonotidae, a family with no native No rth American representatives. This lack of closely-related species in North Ameri ca could help explain ardisia’s low fruit

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48 consumption rates in its introduced range, a nd may be a situation where plant population and expansion is limited by a lack of suitable seed dispersers. For many plant species, high mortality especially at the seedling stage tends to swamp out the importance of seed dispersal (Howe 1993, Howe et al. 1985, Schupp 1988, Chapman and Chapman 1995). Thus, while it is generally accepted that seed dispersal is not as important a stage in the life history of a plant as once thought (Schupp 1995), seed dispersal could be limiting for intr oduced species. It may be possible that coral ardisia lacks suitable dispersers becau se it lacks suitable fruit consumers. Field observations indicate th at Gray Catbirds may be the most important avian consumers of ardisia fruits. Some fruit ma y also be eaten by Northern Mockingbirds and Cedar Waxwings. The lack of ardisia seeds in mammal scat supports earlier findings in this study (Chapter 2) where low-growing branches did no t lose fruits at a greater rate than those that grew higher. However, the one instan ce of finding mammal scat containing ardisia seeds indicates that at least one species will consume fruits from this plant. Dozier (1999) reported ardisia seeds in mammal f eces, and what she called “vomit piles.” On several occasions I also found piles of seed s (not in feces), but in my opinion they appeared to be the result of masticating a mouthful of fruits from which the pulp was sucked and the seeds spit out en masse. Furthermore, these were found within ardisia stands, and not at a distance away from th e plants where one might enough time to have passed for a toxin to trigger vomiting. Dozi er speculated that the raccoons made the vomit piles, and I have no reason to disagree with that hypothesis. It is not known what effect these actions have on seed dispersal of coral ardisia.

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49 Feeding Trials No bird species preferred the fruits of ardi sia over control fruits. While four of six chose control fruits over ardisia, the rema ining two species (European Starling and gray catbird) showed no choice preference for either test or control fruits. Thus, laboratory feeding trials support field observations that th at most birds prefer na tive fruits over those of ardisia. The predictive ability of the feeding trials may be limited because they were conducted with a single species of control fr uit. Birds often have several choices available when foraging for fruits, and th ey make their choices based on what is available, including more than just the two choices that I presented. Furthermore, I chose control fruits with the knowledge that the bird species being tested would eat that fruit, conceivably biasing selection for control fruits over ardisia fruits. However, the feeding trials showed that all species could eat coral ardisia fruits. Northern Mockingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, and Fish Crows did not begin to consume ardisia fruits until nearly all control fruits were exhausted (Figures 4-3, 4-5, and 4-6, respectively). Thus, while these three species exhibited significant differences in fruit preference (Table 4-2), the values fo r those preference slopes could have been different if more fruits were used in the feed ing trials. For example, if enough fruits were used of each species to meet the caloric re quirements for the four hours of the feeding trial, these three species may not have eaten a ny of the coral ardisia fruits. Alternatively, if only five fruits were used for each fruit species, the metabolic demands of the birds might have forced them to consume all ten fruits in the first hour of the experiment. A fruit count at the end of the hour would ha ve given the impression that there was no preference for either fruit species.

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50 In an attempt to get fruits with similar caloric values, fruits were chosen that were of similar size as those of ardisia. Howe ver, the choice of highbush blueberry did not meet these criteria. Probably as a result of selective breeding by humans, the fruits of this species were larger than those of ardisia. Although the smallest fruits were used in feeding trials, they were still larger than the test fruits. Their large size could have resulted in less ardisia fruits eaten by Northe rn Mockingbirds and Fish Crows, especially if the blueberries met the caloric requirements for the five-hour test. Wheelwright (1985) found that the gape widt h of birds was correlated to the size of the fruits they were able to swallow, with the wider-gaped species being able to swallow larger-diameter fruits. If birds tried to swallow fruits of a diameter larger or similar to their gape width, they were often unsucce ssful and dropped fruits to the ground. While the average diameter of coral ardisi a fruits was measured and found to be 8.9 mm (sd = 0.41), the diameters of control fruits were not determined. The numbers of fruit dropped during feeding trials were not coun ted, but if fruits were a bit too large for the smallest of the birds tested, then the dropping and replacement of ardisia fruits may have affected the results by prolonging the peri od that coral ardisia fruits remained. Cedar Waxwings were the smallest of the bi rds tested, and their control fruits were noticeably smaller than those of coral ardisi a. Cedar Waxwings were the species that dropped the greatest number of fruits. Using their bill, some birds mash fruits to remove seeds prior to swallowing, a feat not possible with coral ardisia fr uits. Coral ardisia fruit pulp adheres very strongly to the seed, a quality that may limit consumption to gulpers (see Chapter 1). Fish Crows appeared to be both mashers and gulpers. In itially, they tried mashing the fruits, but

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51 when unsuccessful with separating the seed from the pulp, some became gulpers and swallowed fruits whole. Only a single bird was able to completely clean seeds of pulp before regurgitating them, and seed surv ivability was compromised when damaged during mashing (Table 4-3). The experiences with Fish Crows suggest tw o negative consequences to plants with tightly-adhering fruit pulp. First, potential seed dispersal agents may be limited if fruitmashing birds, such as Fish Crows, choose mashable fruits for consumption. When monitoring fruit loss rates (Chapter 2), I found some fruits with angled puncture wounds on the top and bottom of the fruit. The wounds suggested a heavy-beaked bird sampled and rejected the fruit. Heavy beaked bird s are those that mash fruits (Moermond and Denslow 1985). Second, the tight-adhering pulp can result in seed mortality, as the Fish Crows damaged the seed while attempting to se parate seed from pulp. Birds may lack the ability to control the method of seed voidanc e, as it seems that with the difficulty in separating seed from pulp in the crop, they would have allowed fruits to pass through their digestive tract where the seed would ha ve been cleaned of digestible material. Seed handling and depulping strategies were determined by observing the voided seeds and assessed using video footage. Defecated seeds were in feces, and were stained by the skin. Regurgitated seeds were very cl ean, with no stains or pulp remaining, with the exception of those regurgitated by Fish Crows. The video camera was useful to watch birds trying to swallow (and perhaps taste) the fruits, but because voidance happens so quickly, it was not always clear whet her seeds were regurgitated or defecated. A plastic or glass section of the cage may ha ve allowed better video recording than the wire mesh.

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52 In addition, if determining the duration of seed retention were an objective, fruits should have been fed to the birds singly to be certa in that the voided seed was from a certain fruit. Video footage showed birds eating se veral fruits over a pe riod of time before ridding any seeds. While it was not one of the objectives, better data concerning seed voidance strategies and seed retention times may have be en helpful to further assess bird species as agents of seed dispersal, and would help to project plant population expansions. The methods evaluated in this chapter appear to be capable of evaluating different species of birds as seed dispersal agents. The field observations suggest birds in the family Mimidae (especially gray catbird, but also Northern Mockingbird) are likely the greatest consumers of coral ardisia fruits. Capt ive feeding trials suggest Gray Catbirds as coral ardisia fruit consumers. None of th e bird species that swallowed whole fruit negatively affected seed germination rates. Coral ardisia was introduced into the New World over 100 years ago and has remained a part of Florida landscaping. It has since been recognized as being an invasive weed, and has done so despite that fact that consumption of its fruits by possible seed dispersers is an uncommon event. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the reproductive ecology of coral ardisia in its in troduced range of northern Florida. It was found that plants flower through the summer and fruits ripen in mid-winter. The fruits can persist on the plants for up to one year, with the greatest rate of fruit loss occurring in late April. Plants in a natural area lost fruits at a faster rate than those in an urban area, and isolated plants lost fruits qui cker than those in denser populations. The period of greatest fruit loss co incides with the spring migration of birds through Florida,

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53 and suggests that some consumption of fruits by birds is occurring. Fruits were found not to be nutritionally inferior to native fruits, nor were any other factors found that would suggest a cause as to why fruits of coral ar disia are rarely eaten. Despite many hours in the field, observations of birds feeding on co ral ardisia fruits was limited to a single day with a single bird species (gray catbird). Ca ptive feeding trials f ound that six species of birds would eat coral ardisia fruits, but often favored the fruits of native species to those of coral ardisia. Gray Catbirds and European Starlings showed the greatest acceptance of coral ardisia fruits during cap tive feeding trials. Cedar Wa xwings defecated seeds after eating fruits, while all other species regurgitate d seeds. Seed germination rates were no different for 5 of 6 birds species tested betw een seeds defecated or regurgitated compared to those that were manually depulped. From damage incurred while manually trying to remove seeds from fruits, Fish Crows signifi cantly decreased seed germination rates. However, Fish Crows ate the fe west coral ardisia fruits. Even if the dispersal of coral ardisia fru it by birds to beyond the edge of a stand is a rare event, in the long-term these infreque nt events may have a significant cumulative effect. Coral ardisia seedlings have been show n to have a very high survival rate in field studies (22 – 44%; Lindstrom 2002), so the disp ersal of relatively few viable seeds into suitable habitats could result in th e establishment of new populations. To test the likelihood of this further it would be necessary to use fruit traps under the monitored plants so that the mechanisms of fruit loss could be better discerned. Now that it is known which are the most likely specie s of bird to eat coral ardisia fruits and the conditions under which coral ardisia fruits are most likely to be eaten, it might be worthwhile to conduct further studies sim ilar to those of Bartuszevige and Gorchov

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54 (2006), in their study of the spread of Lonicera mackii by birds. That could include, for example, capturing sufficient numbers of Gray Catbirds in and around coral ardisia stands to evaluate if any of them voided co ral ardisia seeds. Also the time between ingestion and voidance could be measured and compared to how far the birds are likely to move during that time. Alternatively, it mi ght be interesting to establish why coral ardisia fruit are not more appealing to native birds, either by examining fruit characteristics such as the content of secondary compounds or by a more realistic presentation of fruit on whole coral ardisi a plants to birds in larger aviaries. In conclusion, we have advanced from not knowing whether bird dispersal of coral ardisia was possible to being able to say th at it could occur. Given the number of invasive plants for which bird dispersal is claimed but which lack sufficient evidence (Meisenburg and Fox 2002), there are many of othe r applications of these types of study that could be useful in improving our understa nding of, and predictions about, the spread of invasive plant species.

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55 Figure 4-1. Results from European Star ling feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Cinnamomum camphora (n=4). The birds showed no preference for either fruit species. Bars represent standard error.

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56 Figure 4-2. Results from gray catbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Forestiera godfreyi (n=5). The birds showed no preference for either fruit species. Bars represent standard error.

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57 Figure 4-3. Results from Northern Mocki ngbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Vaccinium corymbosum (n=5). The birds showed a preference for V. corymbosum. Bars represent standard error.

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58 Figure 4-4. Results from American R obin feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Ilex opaca (n=10). The birds showed a preference for I. opaca. Bars represent standard error.

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59 Figure 4-5. Results from Cedar Waxwi ng feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Ilex x attenuate (n=10). The birds showed a preference for I. x attenuata. Bars represent standard errors.

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60 Figure 4-6. Results from Fish Crow feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and Vaccinium corymbosum (n=5). Bars represent standard error.

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61 Table 4-1. Population statuses of the birds tested. Data are from Stevenson and Anderson (1994). Species Alachua County status Fish Crow Fairly common to common in summer, but uncommon to abundant in winter (irregular) American Robin Abundant in winter, majority leave before April Gray catbird Uncommon in winter, abundant mid-April to early May Northern Mockingbird Common to abundant year-round resident, numbers are reduced away from humans and in wooded communities Cedar Waxwing Common to abundant from late winter through spring European Starling Common to fairly common year-round, with population increasing from wintering indivi duals that depart February through March Table 4-2. Transformed slope values from feeding trials. Signifi cance levels indicate that two bird species did not significa ntly choose one fruit species over the other, while the remaining four bird sp ecies preferred control fruits over test (A. crenata) fruits. Slopes ardisia fruits native fruits level of significance European Starling -0.86 -0.65 0.5961 Gray catbird -1.06 -1.03 0.3566 Northern Mockingbird 0.0* -1.83 <.0001 American Robin -0.69 -3.46 <.0001 Cedar Waxwing -0.85 -29.68 ** Fish Crow -0.86 -4.77 <.0001 = Did not differ significantly from zero. ** = SAS could not calculate due to its low va lue (there were no fruits after the first hour)

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62 Table 4-3. Ardisia seed germination ra tes from seeds voided during feeding trials. Control fruits were those that were manually depulped. seeds germinated % germ remarks American Robin 100 100 100 regurgitated control 100 100 100 Gray catbird 100 100 100 regurgitated control 100 100 100 Northern Mockingbird 20 20 100 regurgitated control 20 20 100 Cedar Waxwing 100 100 100 defecated control 100 100 100 Fish Crow* 29 26 89.7 wholly depulped 16 14 87.5 partially depulped-intact seed coat 9 5 55.6 partially depulpeddamaged seed coat control 54 54 100 FICR frugivory significantly decreased seed germination rate at the 0.05 level.

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63 LIST OF REFERENCES Agresti A. 1990. Categorical Data Analysis. Wiley & Sons, New York. Association of Official Agricu ltural Chemists. 1980. Offi cial Methods of Analysis, 13th Ed., Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Arlington. Bartuszevige, A. M., and D. L. Gorchov. 2006. Avian seed dispersal of an invasive shrub. Biological Invasions 8:1013-1022. Chapman, C. A., and L. J. Chapman. 1995. Survival without dispersers: Seedling recruitment under parents. Conservation Biology 9:675-678. Cipollini, M. L., and D. J. Levey. 1997a. Antifungal activity of Solanum fruit glycoalkaloids: Implications for frugivory and seed dispersal. Ecology 78:799-809. Cipollini, M. L., and D. J. Levey. 1997b. Why are some fruits toxic? Glycoalkaloids in Solanum and fruit choice by vertebrates. Ecology 78:782-798. Cipollini, M. L., and D. J. Levey. 1997c. Secondary metabolites of fleshy vertebratedispersed fruits: Adaptive hypotheses and implications for seed dispersal. The American Naturalist 150:346-372. Cipollini, M. L., and E. W. Stiles. 1992. Relative risks of microbial rot for fleshy fruits – significance with respect to dispersal a nd selection for secondary defense. Advances in Ecological Research 23:35-91 1992. Cipollini, M. L., and E. W. Stiles. 1993. Fruit rot, antifungal defense, and palatability of fleshy fruits for frugivorous birds. Ecology 74:751-762. Connell, J. H. 1971. On the role of natura l enemies in preventing competitive exclusion in some marine animals and in ra in forest trees. Pages 298-310 in P. J. den Boer and G. R. Gradwell, eds. Dynamics of populations. Proceedings of the Advanced Study Institute on Dynamics of numbers in populations, Oosterbeek, 1970. Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation, Wageningen. Cronk, Q. C. B., and J. L. Fuller. 1995. Plant Invaders. Chapman and Hall, London. Denslow, J. S. 1987. Fruit removal rates from aggregated and isolated bushes of the red elderberry (Sambucus pubens). Canadian Journal of Botany 65:1229-1235.

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64 Dozier, H. 1999. Plant introductions and i nvasion: history, public awareness, and the case of Ardisia crenata. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Florida. FDEP. 2004. Upland Invasive Exotic Pl ant Management Program Fiscal Year 20032004 Annual Report. Florida Departme nt of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee. Figueroa, J. A., and S. A. Castro. 2002. E ffects of bird ingestion on seed germination of four woody species of the temperate rain forest of Chiloe Island, Chile. Plant Ecology 160:17-23. Garcia, D., R. Zamora, J. M. Gomez, and J. A. Hodar. 1999. Bird rejection of unhealthy fruits reinforces the mutualism between juniper and its avian dispersers. Oikos 85:536-544. Gosper, C. R., G. Vivian-Smith, and K. Ho ad. 2006. Reproductive ecology of invasive Ochna serrulata (Ochnaceae) in south-eastern Queensland. Australian Journal of Botany 54:43-52. Hall, M. B., W. H. Hoover, J. P. Jennings, and T. K. Miller Webster. 1999. A method for partitioning neutral detergent-soluble ca rbohydrates. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 79:2079-2086. Howe, H. F. 1993. Specialized and gene ralized dispersal systems—where does the paradigm stand? Vegetatio 108:3-13. Howe, H. F., E. W. Schupp, and L. C. Wes tley. 1985. Early consequences of seed dispersal for a neotropical tree (Virola-surinamensis). Ecology 66: 781-791. Howe, H. F., and Smallwood. 1982. Ecology of seed dispersal. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 13:201-228. Howe, H. F., and G. A. Vande Kerckhove 1981. Removal of wild nutmeg (Virola surinamensis) crops by birds. Ecology 62:1093-1106. Izhaki, I., and U. N. Safriel. 1990. Th e effect of some Mediterranean scrubland frugivores upon germination pattern s. Journal of Ecology 78:56-65. Janzen, D. H. 1970. Herbivores and the number of tree species in tropical forests. Am. Nat. 104:501-528. Johnson, R. A., M. F. Willson, J. N. Thomps on, and R. I. Bertini. 1985. Nutritional values of wild fruits and consumpti on by migrant frugivorous birds. Ecology 66:819-827.

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65 Kaufmann, S., D. B. McKey, M. Hossaert-McKey, and C. C. Horvitz. 1991. Adaptations for a 2-phase seed dispersal sy stem involving vertebrates and ants in a hemiepiphytic fig (Ficus microcarpa: Mo raceae). American Journal of Botany 78:971-977. Kitajima, K., A. M. Fox, T. Sato, and D. Na gamatsu. 2006. Cultivar selection prior to introduction may increase inva siveness: Evidence from Ardisia crenata. Biological Invasions 8:1471-1482. Koop, A. L. 2004. Differential seed mortal ity among habitats limits the distribution of the invasive non-native shrub Ardisia elliptica. Plant Ecology 172:237-249. Langeland, K. A., and K. C. Burks. 1998. Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas. University of Florida, Gainesville. Lepczyk, C. A., K. G. Murray, K. Winnett-Mur ray, P. Bartell, E. Geyer, and T. Work. 2000. Seasonal fruit preferences for lipids and sugars by American Robins. Auk 117:709-717. Levey, D. J., H. A. Bissell, S. F. O'Keef e. 2000. Conversion of nitrogen to protein and amino acids in wild fruits. Journal of Chemical Ecology 26:1749-1763. Levey, D. J., and M. L. Cipollini. 1998. A glycoalkaloid in ripe fruit deters consumption by Cedar Waxwings. Auk 115:359-367. Lima, S. 1993. Ecological and evolutiona ry perspectives on escape from predatory attack: a survey of North American birds. The Wilson Bulletin 105:1-47. Lindstrom, G. M. 2002. Life history characte ristics of Ardisia crenata growing in natural areas in north Florida. M.S. Th esis. University of Florida. Mack R. N., D. Simberloff, W. M. Lonsdale H. Evans, M. Clout, and F. A. Bazzaz. 2000. Biotic invasions: Causes, epidemiol ogy, global consequences, and control. Ecological Applications 10:689-710. Manasse, R. S., and H. F. Howe. 1983. Competition for dispersal agents among tropical trees: influences of neighbors. Oecologia 59:185-190. Martin, A. C., H S. Zim, and A. L. Nelson. 1951. American Wildlife & Plants, A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits; the Use of Trees Shrubs, Weeds, and Herbs by Birds and Mammals of the United States. Dover Publications, New York. McDonnell, M. J., and E. W. Stiles 1983. The structural complexity of old field vegetation and the recruitmen t of bird-dispersed plant species. Oecologia 56:109116. Meisenburg, M. J., and A. M. Fox. 2002. What role do birds play in dispersal of invasive plants? Wildland Weeds 5:8-14.

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66 Meyer G. A., and M. C. Witmer. 1998. Influence of seed processing by frugivorous birds on germination success of three Nort h American shrubs. American Midland Naturalist 140:129-139. Moermond T. C., and J. S. Denslow 1985. Neot ropical frugivores: patterns of behavior, morphology, and nutrition with consequences for fruit selection. Pages 865-897 in P. A. Buckley, M. S. Foster, E. S. Morton, R. S. Ridgely, and N. G. Buckley, eds. Neotropical Ornithology. American Or nithologists’ Union Monographs, 36. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, DC. Morton, J. F. 1982. Plants Poisonous to People in Florida and Other Warm Areas. Southeastern Printing Company, Stuart. Murray K. G., S. Russel, C. M. Picone, K. Winnett-Murray, W. Sherwood, and M. L. Kuhlmann. 1994. Fruit laxatives an d seed passage rates in frugivores: consequences for plant reproductive success. Ecology 75:989-994 Pascarella, J. B. 1998. Hurricane disturba nce, plant-animal interactions, and the reproductive success of a tropical shrub. Biotropica 30:416-424. or Resiliency and response to hurricane disturbance in a tropical shrub, Ardisia escallonioides (Myrsinaceae), in south Florida. American Journal of Botany 85:1207-1215 Pierce, W. C., and E. L. Haenisch. 1947. Quantitative Analysis, 2nd Ed. Wiley, New York. Renne, I. J., T. P. Spira, and W. C. Bridges, Jr. 2001. Effects of habitat, age and passage through birds on germination and establishment of Chinese tallow tree in coastal South Carolina. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 128: 109-119. Royal Palm Nurseries. 1900. Annual Mail-order Catalogue. Oneco. Russo S. E. 2003. Responses of dispersa l agents to tree a nd fruit traits in Virola calophylla (Myristicaceae): impli cations for selection. Oecologia 136:80-87. Sargent, S. 1990. Neighborhood effects on fr uit removal by birds: A field experiment with Viburnum dentatum (Caprifoliaceae). Ecology 71: 1289-1298. Schupp, E. W. 1988. Factors affecting post-disp ersal seed survival in a tropical forest. Oecologia 76:525-530. Skeate, S. T. 1987. Interactions between bi rds and fruits in a northern Fflorida hammock community. Ecology 68: 297-309. Stanley M. C., and A. Lill. 2002. Importance of seed ingestion to an avian frugivore: An experimental approach to fruit choi ce based on seed load. Auk 119:175-184. Stevenson, H. M., and B. H. Anderson. 1994. The Birdlife of Florida. University Press of Florida. Gainesville.

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67 Stiles, E. W. 1980. Patterns of fruit presen tation and seed dispersal in bird-disseminated woody plants in the eastern deciduous fo rest. The American Naturalist 116:670688. Travaset, A., M. F. Willson, and J.C. Gaither Jr. 1995. Avoidance by birds of insectinfested fruits of Vaccinium ovalifolium. Oikos 73:381-386. van der Pijl, L.. 1972. Principles of Disper sal in Higher Plants. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, New York. Wheelwright, N. T. 1985. Fruit size, gape wi dth, and the diets of fruit-eating birds. Ecology 66: 808-818. White, D. W. 1989. North American bird -dispersed fruits: ec ological and adaptive significance of nutritional and st ructural traits. Ph.D. Thesis. Rutgers University. White, D. W., and E. W. Stiles. 1992. Bird dispersal of fruits of species introduced into eastern North America. Canadi an Journal of botany 70: 1689-1696. Witmer, M. C., and P. J. Van Soest. 1998. C ontrasting digestive strategies of fruit-eating birds. Functional Ecology 12: 728-741. Wilcove, D. S., D. Rothstein, J. Dubow, A. Phillips, and E. Losos. 1998. Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the Un ited States. Bios cience 48:607-615. Wunderlin, R. P. 1982. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida. University Press of Florida. Gainesville.

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68 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Michael Meisenburg was born in North Tonawanda, New York, and graduated from Starpoint Central High School in 1982. Af ter nearly 6 years in the Air Force, he moved to Port Orange, Florida, and soon landed a job spraying aquatic herbicides and algaecides. It was during this influential pe riod in his life that he learned the joy that comes from killing invasive plants. He gr aduated from UF in 1999 with his B.S. in wildlife ecology and conservation, and currently works as a biologist for the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at UF conducti ng research on killing invasive plants. Michael is chair of the Control and Evalua tions Committee of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council and president of Alachua Audubon Society. He has been married for 10 years to Vasiliki, and they have many animals together. Michael is an avid fisherman, gardener, birder, naturalist, and invasive plant killer.


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Title: Reproductive and Dispersal Ecology of the Invasive Coral Ardisia (Ardisia crenata) in Northern Florida
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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REPRODUCTIVE AND DISPERSAL ECOLOGY OF THE INVASIVE CORAL
ARDISIA (Ardisia crenata) IN NORTHERN FLORIDA
















By

MICHAEL J. MEISENBURG


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2007





























2007 Michael J. Meisenburg

































This document is dedicated to my sister Marie Gedeon (1951-2006).















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To finish this-and to believe in myself enough to do so-I am grateful to my wife

Vasiliki. Without her I would not have journeyed down this path. Most of us need

someone in our lives to coach us on, to prod us along, and to pick us up when we

stumble. She is that person in my life. I will never be all that I can be, or maximize my

potential, but that is okay. My life is richer with her in it, and because of her I will

accomplish more. It is because of her that I am about to finish this journey.

Despite much encouragement from my advisor and my committee, my friends and

my family, and (most of all) my wife, this project took seven years to finish. In the end, I

suppose that it was the impending early retirement of my advisor that finally forced me to

complete what has become my personal 800-lb gorilla. My gorilla has accompanied me

everywhere these last few years, and has been with me day and night. My gorilla taught

me how to incorporate stress into my life, how to exist after nights with little sleep, how

to maintain a 40-lb weight gain, how to abandon hobbies that I once enjoyed, how to

despise writing, and how to avoid tasks and not reach my goals. Soon I will turn in my

completed thesis, and I will lose my hairy companion. I will not miss him.

A special thank you is due to Alison Fox (my advisor) and Randall Stocker

(Alison's husband and one of my committee members) for getting me through this. I

hope they enjoy their travels.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

L IST O F TA B L E S ............ ........ .... ............................... .... ...... ... ............. vii

LIST OF FIGURES ............... .. ................................ viii

A B ST R A C T ................. ................................................................................... ........

CHAPTER

1 UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF SEED DISPERSAL FOR
N ONN ATIVE PLAN T SPECIES ........................................... ........................... 1

Introduction ......... ......... .............................. ...............1
Coral A rdisia in Florida .......... ..... ................................... ...... .. ................ .2
Importance and M echanisms of Seed Dispersal..................................... .......... ....... 4
A D iffu se M utualism ........................................................................... .. ..
The Flesh of the Fruit ........................................ .................. ............ .... ..6 6
D ispersal Process by B irds ........................................ ......................................7
Seed Ingestion ................................................................7
Seed D position ............................................. 7
S eed V iab ility ....................................................... 8
Observations of Bird Behavior .................................................. 9
Project G oals .............................................................................................

2 REPRODUCTIVE PHENOLOGY OF Ardisia crenata ........... ......................11

Introduction ........................... .................. 11
M e th o d s ..................................................................12
Site Descriptions ................ ....... .......... ........ 12
Data Collection ....................................................................... ......... ................... 13
D ata A n a ly sis .................................................................................................. 1 5
Results ....................... ...................................16
Flowering and Fruiting Phenology ............ ....................... ......... 16
Fruit Loss ........................ .......................... 16
D isc u ssio n ............. ......... .. .............. .. .......................................................1 7
F ruiting P henology ............................................................17
Fruit Loss ........................ ..... ..................... 17


v









Longetivity of fruit persistence ................. ..............................................17
Influence of fruit/plant presentation on loss rate...................... ...............18
Seasonality of fruit loss ....................................................... ..... .......... 20

3 NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF Ardisia crenata FRUITS .................................. 28

In tro d u ctio n ............. ...... ....... ................................. ................ 2 8
M eth o d s ..............................................................................2 9
R results ............. ...... ... .. ............ ... ............................................30
D discussion ............... ........................................................................... 31

4 CONSUMPTION OF ARDISIA CRENATA FRUIT BY BIRDS AND THEIR
ROLE IN SUBSEQUENT SEED DISPERSAL .......................................................38

Introduction..................................... ......................................... ... 38
M eth o d s ............................................................................. 3 9
Field Observations .......... ... ........................ ........ .. .. .. .... .... ... 39
Selection of Birds for Experim ents ................................................... ................. 39
Captive Feeding Trials .............................................. ............. .............. 39
Selection of Native Plants for Experiments........................ .... ...............41
D ata A n a ly sis ................................................................................................. 4 3
Results .......... .................................. ...............43
Field O observations ................. ........... .. .... ........ .. .................43
F e e d in g T ria ls ................................................................................................ 4 4
Discussion ............... ......... .........................45
Field Observations .............. .... ......... .... ... .........45
F e e d in g T ria ls ................................................................................................ 4 9

LIST OF REFERENCES .................................................................... .... ......... ......... ......... 63

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........... .... ....... .... ................................. ........... 68















LIST OF TABLES


Tablege

2-1 Rainfall levels for Gainesville, FL (units are inches). It is not known how many
years data collection constitute averages (Gainesville Sun, June 30, 2002)............27

3-1 Data for coral ardisia fruits (means and standard deviations). Percentages of
nutrient data are on a dry matter basis......................................... ...............35

3-2 Nutritional data for fruits available in northern Florida natural areas, grouped
together by season. Fruits from coral ardisia are generally available winter through
summer; values of fall fruits were included as a reference. Data for all species
other than coral ardisia are from W hite (1989). ............................. ...................36

3-3 The means and standard deviations of the fruit nutrient data from Table 3-2.
Although the some coral ardisia fruits remain on the plant for the entire year, most
competition for frugivores occurs winter through summer............... ..................37

4-1 Population statuses of the birds tested. Data are from Stevenson and Anderson
(1994). .............................................................................. 6 1

4-2 Transformed slope values from feeding trials. Significance levels indicate that two
bird species did not significantly choose one fruit species over the other, while the
remaining four bird species preferred control fruits over test (A. crenata) fruits....61

4-3 Ardisia seed germination rates from seeds voided during feeding trials. Control
fruits were those that were manually depulped. ................... ...............................62
















LIST OF FIGURES


Figurege

2-1 Flowering dates of Ardisia crenata........................................................... 23

2-2 Ardisia crenata fruit production dates for three populations. Values on the Y-axes
represent the % of monitored plants at that stage..................................................24

2-3 Fruit losses from Ardisia crenata plants at two sites during 2001. Error bars
represent standard errors. ............................................... .............................. 25

2-4 The loss rates ofArdisia crenata fruits at Putz during 2001. The three lines
represent loss rates for three densities ofA. crenata plants. Error bars show 95%
confidence intervals......... ................................................................ .... .... .... 25

2-5 Probability density function graphs for Ardisia crenata fruit loss rates at three
different densities of plants: minimal (top), moderate (middle), and maximum
(bottom ) ................................................................. ...... ........... 26

4-1 Results from European Starling feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and
Cinnamomum camphora. The birds showed no taste preference for either fruit
species. Bars represent standard error. ........................................ ............... 55

4-2 Results from gray catbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and
Forestiera godfreyi. The birds showed no taste preference for either fruit species.
B ars represent standard error....................................................................... ....... 56

4-3 Results from Northern Mockingbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata
and Vaccinium corymbosum. The birds showed a taste preference for V.
corymbosum. Bars represent standard error... ................... ......................... 57

4-4 Results from American Robin feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and
Ilex opaca. The birds showed a taste preference for I. opaca. Bars represent
stan d ard erro r ................... ................... ......... ................ ................ 5 8

4-5 Results from Cedar Waxwing feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and
Ilex x attenuata. The birds showed a taste preference for I. x attenuata. Bars
represent standard errors. ............................................... .............................. 59









4-6 Results from Fish Crow feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and
Vaccinium corymbosum. The birds showed a taste preference for V. corymbosum.
Bars represent standard error............... ................. ................... .......... 60















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

REPRODUCTIVE AND DISPERSAL ECOLOGY OF THE INVASIVE CORAL
ARDISIA (Ardisia crenata) IN NORTHERN FLORIDA

By

Michael J. Meisenburg

May 2007

Chair: Alison M. Fox
Major: Agronomy

Coral ardisia was introduced into the New World from Asia more than 100 years

ago and has become a part of Florida landscapes. It has since been recognized as being

an invasive weed even though it is suspected that consumption of its fruits by possible

seed dispersers is an uncommon event. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into

the reproductive ecology of coral ardisia in its introduced range of northern Florida.

Tracking tagged plants showed flowered through the summer and fruits ripened in

mid-winter. The fruits can persist on the plants for up to one year, with the greatest rate

of fruit loss occurring in late April. Plants in a natural area lost fruits at a faster rate than

those in an urban area, and isolated plants lost fruits quicker than those in denser

populations. The period of greatest fruit loss coincides with the spring migration of birds

through Florida and suggests that some consumption of fruits by birds is occurring.

Fruits were found not to be nutritionally inferior to native fruits, nor were any other

factors found that would suggest a reason why fruits of coral ardisia are rarely eaten.









Despite many hours in the field, observations of birds feeding on coral ardisia fruits were

limited to a single day with a single bird species (gray catbird). Captive feeding trials

found that six species of birds would eat coral ardisia fruits, but often favored the fruits of

native species to those of coral ardisia. Gray Catbirds and European Starlings showed the

greatest acceptance of coral ardisia fruits during captive feeding trials. Cedar Waxwings

defecated seeds after eating fruits, while all other species regurgitated seeds. Seed

germination rates were no different for 5 of 6 birds species tested between seeds

defecated or regurgitated compared to those that were manually depulped. From damage

incurred while manually trying to remove seeds from fruits, Fish Crows significantly

decreased seed germination rates. However, Fish Crows ate the fewest coral ardisia

fruits.














CHAPTER 1
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF SEED DISPERSAL FOR NONNATIVE
PLANT SPECIES

Introduction

The human-assisted spread of species into new regions and the subsequent

ecological effects that some of these species have on native ecosystems is recognized as

one of the most serious contemporary threats to biodiversity. Indeed, Wilcove et al.

(1998) regarded introduced species as being second only to habitat loss in terms of

habitat impacts. Whether by accident or intention, humans have been moving organisms

for thousands of years, but the recognition of the negative impacts to natural systems as

well as the magnitude of these impacts are more recent (for a good description see Mack

et al. 2000).

Although many taxa are represented, plants constitute some of the better-known

examples, and within the state of Florida alone, millions of dollars are spent annually to

control nonnative plants. For example, the Florida Department of Environmental

Protection (FDEP) spent 6.3 million dollars in FY2003 to control nonnative weeds. As

large as this expenditure is, it includes neither aquatic plants, with two of the worst

introduced species, water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and hydrilla (Hydrilla

verticillata), nor money allocated directly to the Melaleuca Program (FDEP 2004). One

plant responsible for much of this expenditure in northern Florida is coral ardisia, Ardisia

crenata Sims. (Myrsinaceae) (FDEP 2004).









Coral Ardisia in Florida

Native to southeastern Asia, coral ardisia grows from one to one and a half meters

tall in shaded to partially-shaded areas. Initially single-stemmed, most plants eventually

produce additional stems and maintain a multi-stemmed status for many years. After

several years, stems begin growing short branches. With leaves growing at the ends, the

initial function of the branches is energy production. After one to two years, a branch's

purpose changes to reproduction as the leaves are replaced by flowers in a cyme. During

the branch's final year, the flowers produce single-seeded drupes. Branches typically

have about 5 to 20 fruits each and plants have from 1 to 10 branches. Branches fall from

plants after the fruits are gone, and the lifespan of each branch is 3 to 4 years. The

branches circle the stem, with the lowest branches being the oldest. Each year, the plant

grows taller and produces a new set of branches, and each ring of branches advances to

the next stage of its cycle. Plants may begin producing branches when about 20 cm tall.

The pattern of continuously regenerating stems makes it impossible to estimate the age of

the plant based on stem size and reproductive status.

Coral ardisia is a shrub that has been used for landscaping in Florida for more than

100 years (Royal Palm Nurseries 1900). At least three factors may have contributed to

the popularity of this species. First, it grows well in sites with no direct sunlight, a

condition many landscape plants cannot tolerate. Second, it produces large, bright red

fruits just prior to Christmas that persist for months and contrast with its evergreen

glossy, dark green leaves. Third, the plant seems to rarely suffer insect damage. By 1982

coral ardisia was recognized as escaping cultivation and invading moist woods

(Wunderlin 1982).









In response to the plant's invasion, the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has placed

the plant on its Category I list of invasive plants (www.fleppc.org); a designation

indicating that the plant is not only invading natural lands, but altering native plant

communities. In 2003, the FDEP's Upland Weeds Program ranked Ardisia spp. (which

includes both coral ardisia and shoebutton ardisia (Ardisia elliptica)) as the seventh-most

herbicide-treated taxon in the state (FDEP 2004).

While coral ardisia grows well in moist mesicc) sites, it also invades wet hydricc)

woods. Mesic hardwood hammock seems to be the natural community most prone to

invasion (Langeland and Burks 1998). The plant is not known to invade mesic or hydric

pinelands (Dozier 1999).

Coral ardisia fruits seem to be removed from plants only occasionally (Dozier

1999), thus presenting a paradox in attempting to discover dispersal agents. If fruits are

not often eaten, so that the seeds can be subsequently dispersed, then how has it spread

throughout natural areas in the state? Because the plant is still used in landscaping, some

dispersal is anthropogenic, but this does not account for the plant's widespread presence

in natural areas (e.g. remote locations in San Felasco Hammock State Park, Gainesville,

FL, Sam Cole, park biologist, personal communication). Birds are a likely candidate for

non-human dispersers of this plant because coral ardisia does not posses mammalian-

dispersed fruit traits, such as being sweet-tasting and falling to the ground soon after

ripening (Stiles 1980). In addition, while coral ardisia's fruits are brightly-colored and

highly visible in the forest due to this color, most mammals are color blind (Van der Pijl

1972). Fruits of a native congener (A. escallonoides) similarly seem not to be heavily









used by birds, except for during spring migration (John Pascarella, University of Miami,

personal communication).

The Importance and Mechanisms of Seed Dispersal

There are several reasons why seed dispersal is important to plants. First, because

sites suitable for growth vary in space and time, plants must be able to colonize new areas

as conditions change (Howe and Smallwood 1982). Second, dispersal beyond the canopy

is a means of avoiding competition between parents and siblings. Finally, the Escape, or

Janzen-Connell Hypothesis (Janzen 1970, Connell 1971), indicates that dispersal from

the parent is important because seed predators (rodents, insects, or microbes) often

concentrate their efforts under parent plants where food density is highest.

Plants use various strategies for dispersing seeds beyond the range of their

branches, and while the process is an important part of plant population dynamics, it is

especially important if the plants are invasive, exotic species. Certain traits may

influence a particular species' propensity to become invasive, but a species is much less

likely to become a problem (beyond a local scale) without a reliable seed dispersal

vector. Little is known about vertebrate-assisted seed dispersal of invasive plant species

in Florida, and few dispersers have been adequately verified. Identification of dispersal

agents relies heavily on assumptions (e.g. Morton 1982, Cronk and Fuller 1995), and

there often seems to be a disregard of important subtleties (e.g. not distinguishing

between those that eat fruit pulp and those that eat fruit seeds).

Many plants achieve seed dispersal through relatively simple processes such as via

wind or water, but more complicated interactions can occur when plants use vertebrates

to disperse their seeds. Ectozoochoric fruits or seeds attach to animals with hooks, barbs,

or sticky secretions, while animals are usually enticed to eat endozoochoric seeds with a









fleshy fruit meal. Successful seed dispersal occurs only when still viable seed is

dispersed. While seed dispersal may be an important initial step in a plant's life, it is

only the initial step as germination and seedling establishment are also required.

Although fruit ingestion and subsequent seed dispersal of coral ardisia do not seem

to be common events (Dozier 1999), even low frequency events could be important if

plant mortality of seedlings was low. A trait shared by many nonnative plants is a lack of

pathogens and predators, and indeed, insect damage on coral ardisia is rarely observed

(personal observation). In other words, a limited frequency of seed dispersal may not

negatively affect coral ardisia as much as it would a native species that has coevolved

with a suite of pathogens, parasites, and predators, because coral ardisia may suffer lower

rates of mortality predation at the seed and seedling stages.

A Diffuse Mutualism

Tight relationships between a specific fruit and frugivore are unusual, and not

known to occur for invasive plants. Indeed, some non-native plant species have their

seeds dispersed by bird species that did not coevolve with them. If they needed a specific

disperser, introduced plants probably would not become a problem when introduced

beyond their natural range. This type of seed dispersal represents a mutualism because

both participants benefit; the frugivore with a meal and the plant with its seeds dispersed.

However, the mutualism is only fulfilled if a viable seed is moved beyond the range of

the plant's branches.

Following fruit consumption, seeds may be carried away from or dropped from the

parent plant, with the latter resulting in no dispersal. For those seeds that are transported

away from the parent, ingestion may increase (Renne et al. 2001, Bartuszevige and

Gorchov 2006, Figueroa and Castro 2002), decrease (Bartuszevige and Gorchov 2006,









Meyer and Witmer 1998), or have no effect on seed germination rates (Meyer and

Witmer 1998, Izhaki and Safriel 1990, Figueroa and Castro 2002). Seeds dropped under

the parent plant and ingestion decreasing seed germination rates are non-mutualistic

situations where the frugivore benefits but the plant does not.

The Flesh of the Fruit

Endozoochoric fruits typically consist of a digestible outer layer surrounding (at

least) one seed, and in the majority of cases this is a fleshy pericarp consisting of pulp

and skin. Alternatively, arillate fruits possess endozoochoric seeds in which the fruits

open and reveal seeds that are covered in a digestible coating. Arillate seeds may have a

fleshy aril, such as southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), or a dry, waxy aril like

Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum).

The nutrient content of fruits is usually assessed by measuring the levels of lipids,

carbohydrates, and protein (Stiles 1980). Summer/early fall fruits tend to be higher in

carbohydrates and water, while fall/winter fruits generally contain higher levels of lipids.

Protein levels in fruits are usually low. Mammals feed more on summer and early fall

fruits, which are often sweet-tasting, while the lipid-rich fruits of fall and winter are

mostly utilized by birds (Stiles 1980).

Most species of temperate fruiting plants in the eastern U.S. set fruit in the fall,

presumably benefiting from migrating birds (Stiles 1980). These birds need energy to

fuel migration, and fruits provide a readily digested source in packages that are easy to

procure. However, fruit set in Florida's natural communities may follow a different

schedule because this geographic region is subject to the selective pressure of a large

over-wintering bird population rather than the passage of fall migrants (Skeate 1987).

While much of the state has a temperate flora and hence most plant species produce fruit









in the fall, it is thought that a greater fruit biomass is produced in the winter months when

birds such as American Robins (Turdus migratorius), Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla

cedrorum), Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), and yellow-rumped warblers

(Dendroica coronata) over-winter in Florida (Skeate 1987).

The Dispersal Process by Birds

Seed Ingestion

For efficient flight it is essential that birds minimize unnecessary weight. One

strategy to accomplish this is for birds to eliminate heavy, undigestible seeds as quickly

as possible. Frugivorous birds can be divided into two groups: gulpers and mashers

(Moermond and Denslow 1985). Gulpers are species that tend to swallow fruits whole,

separate the seeds from the pulp internally, and then generally void the seeds at some

distance from the parent plant (e.g., Northern Mockingbird (Mimuspolyglottos)).

Mashers tend to crush fruits in their bills separating the seeds from the pulp and

swallowing just the pulp (e.g., northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis)). Mashers

typically drop seeds from the canopy of the parent plant. Generally, birds with heavier

conical bills are mashers while those with thinner bills are gulpers.

Seed Deposition

How a gulper rids itself of seeds is also important relative to plant dispersal. The

seed may be separated from the pulp in the crop with the seed regurgitated, or separation

can occur further along the digestive tract with the seed defecated. The crop is an

enlargement of the esophagus and while it is generally used to store food prior to entering

the gizzard or stomach, it is also used for separating the pulp from the seeds. Birds can

regurgitate seeds that are cleaned of even the most adhering pulp (such as those of coral

ardisia). Murray et al. (1994) found that there is a positive correlation between the









distance over which a seed is dispersed and the length of time that a bird carries the seed.

Since regurgitation is faster than defecation, method of voidance might affect seed

dispersal distance. Meyer and Witmer (1998) found the mean seed defecation time of the

native shrub Viburnum dentatum after fruit consumption by American Robins was 58

minutes versus a mean regurgitation time of 19 minutes. Although these authors studied

both voidance methods for one type of seed using a single bird species, more often a bird

species either regurgitates or defecates seeds based on seed size.

Recognizing that many factors can influence which bird species feed on which

fruits (e.g., time of year ripening occurs, proximity to ground), it can be hypothesized that

as a result of different voidance methods, plant population expansion rates could be

influenced by which bird species tend to feed on the fruits.

The time of the year that ripe fruits are on the plant could influence the direction of

seed dispersal. For example, a plant species whose fruits ripen in the spring may be most

likely to experience a gradual northward population shift due to the spring migration of

millions of birds. It should be remembered that each bird carries seeds a small distance at

a time (depending upon flight speed and duration of seed retention), not for the thousands

of miles of the whole migration route.

Seed Viability

A mutualism between bird and plant only exists if a viable seed is dispersed. Seed

viability may be affected by the digestion process, and the severity of damage may

increase with the length of time a seed is retained in the bird's digestive tract (Murray et

al. 1994). Thus, there may be a trade-off for the plant between the distance seeds are

carried prior to defecation (potentially improving seed dispersal), and the proportion of

seed remaining viable (reducing viable seed dispersal).









In addition to frugivorous birds feeding on fruit pulp, granivorous birds may feed

on the seeds of fruits. The granivorous house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) is

historically a western U.S. species that expanded its range into Florida following a 1940's

introduction into the northeastern U.S. While they are commonly observed feeding on

fruits, often they are actually cracking the seeds and feeding on the entire fruit (skin,

pulp, and seeds). Similarly, with a gizzard that is capable of crushing pecans and acorns,

wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) and other members of the order Galliformes often

digest the seeds passed through their digestive tracts. An observation of these species

feeding on fruits can easily be misinterpreted as seed dispersal rather than the seed

predation that it is.

Observations of Bird Behavior

A conclusive determination of endozoochoric seed dispersal by birds requires

verification that the seeds are ingested, carried away from the parent plant, and voided in

a viable condition. Observation of only fruit or seed consumption does not distinguish

between seed dispersal and seed predation (Meisenburg and Fox 2002). However,

documentation of seedlings distant from the rest of the plant population and in sites

frequented by birds (e.g., under tree roosts, along fence lines) is an indication that bird

dispersal is likely (McDonnell and Stiles 1983).

Project Goals

The goals of this study were to gain a greater understanding of coral ardisia

reproductive phenology and to determine whether some bird species might have a role in

dispersing viable seeds.

The objectives of chapter two were to determining when flowers, unripe, and ripe

fruits first appear on plants, and then to determine their duration. Assessing fruit nutrient






10


content to compare to native species was the objective of chapter three. Finally, the

objectives of chapter four were to determine if birds would eat the fruit of coral ardisia,

conduct preference trials with other fruits, assess germination rates of voided seeds, and

report on bird feeding activity in coral ardisia stands.














CHAPTER 2
REPRODUCTIVE PHENOLOGY OF ARDISIA CRENA TA

Introduction

The fruits of coral ardisia have been observed to persist for most of the year on

plants in northern-central Florida (Dozier 1999). For this reason it is often assumed that

the fruits are rarely eaten by frugivores in Florida. Although it is possible that

consumption rates are low, an alternative hypothesis is that fruit production continues for

much of the year and thus gives the appearance that fruits are not removed.

If consumption of fruits is occurring, seasonal variation in fruit loss rate could

implicate certain species as being major consumers of the fruit. For example, Florida is a

corridor to millions of migrating birds every spring and fall, and if these events were

correlated to increased rates of fruit loss from plants, this would suggest consumption by

migrants. If viable seeds are voided, high rates of fruit consumption could lead to high

rates of seed dispersal.

Fruit loss is the detachment of fruit from the plant, and this may be passive (e.g.

senescence of peduncle) or active (i.e. removal by an animal). For the purposes of this

study, mechanisms of fruit loss were not differentiated but the assumption is made that

active removal may have accounted for some of the observed fruit loss.

With regard to fruit loss, several factors were taken into account because they could

influence fruit loss rates. One such factor is habitat (Denslow 1987, Gosper et al 2006),

probably because different bird species (with their specific food preferences and

nutritional needs) occur in different habitats. Study sites were chosen in two habitats









with significant coral ardisia populations: intentionally-planted landscapes and near old

homesites in natural areas with persisting coral ardisia populations.

It is possible that fruit height could influence loss rates. If this was the case, then

certain types of dispersal agents may be implicated. For instance, some fruit-eating

mammals are limited to foraging below a certain height relative to their size (though

woody, coral ardisia stems could only support small mammals). The mammals that I

considered to be potential consumers of ardisia fruit were all mid-sized (mesomammals):

red fox (Vulpes vulpes), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), raccoon (Procyon lotor),

and Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), and the assumption was made that they

were unlikely to feed on fruits above 0.6 meters from the ground.

Another factor in fruit loss rate is plant density. Denslow (1987) found that

aggregated red elderberry (Sambucuspubens) plants had lower individual fruit removal

rates than did isolated plants, and she hypothesized that competition among plants for

frugivores led to decreased fruit removal rates for clumped plants. While recording data

in the initial stages of this study, it appeared that the more isolated an ardisia plant was,

the more quickly it lost its fruit. Consequently, I monitored plants for fruits loss across

densities from relatively isolated to growing within dense stands.

The objectives of Chapter 2 were to determine the dates of flower and fruit

production, and the duration of ripe fruit persistence on the plants as influenced by

habitat, branch height, and plant density.

Methods

Site Descriptions

Three sites were selected in Alachua County, Florida. The first was near Rocky

Point Road, Gainesville, on Paynes Prairie State Preserve property (hereafter called









PPSP), the second was east ofNewnan's Lake (on private property owned by University

of Florida Botany Department professor Francis J. Putz) (Putz), and the last site included

several residences around southwestern Gainesville, Florida (City). Sites were selected

on the basis of extensive ardisia infestations and permission to access the property.

The PPSP site was located in a hardwood forest that was principally upland with

seasonal wetlands. Upland trees included live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak

(Quercus hemisphaerica), Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), American holly

(Ilex opaca), and coral ardisia. Wetlands were primarily red maple (Acer rubrum) and

black gum (Nyssa sylvatica).

The Putz site had experienced disturbance from logging and turpentine production,

and consequently had a successional forest component. It contained live oak, laurel oak,

sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), and American holly,

and bordered a bayhead that contained sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana),

loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), and black gum. Coral ardisia was found throughout

this site, but was most extensive in the successional forest.

The City site was comprised of ardisia plants in landscaped locations, as well as

plants in undeveloped wooded lots adjacent to the residences. The plants at the

residences were intentional plantings while the plants in the wooded lot appeared to be

free-living and self sustaining populations, probably originating from the intentionally-

planted populations.

Data Collection

Field data were collected to determine reproductive phenology and rate of fruit

loss. Phenological data consisted of recording when flowers, green (unripe) fruits, and

red (ripe) fruits appeared on plants. On each sampling date, each individual plant was









categorized according to the most advanced of the three stages of the flower/fruit cycle

found. Following fruit maturation, periodic fruit counts were done to assess when plants

lost their fruits. There was no distinction between those fruits that were removed by

vertebrates and those that abscised naturally from the parent.

Phenologic data were gathered at the Putz and City sites during 2000 and 2001, and

at PPSP during 2000. Fruit loss was followed at the Putz and City sites during 2001.

Fruit loss was not followed at the PPSP site because a freeze in early January 2001

severely damaged previously tagged fruits and plants.

I monitored plants at the Putz site along on a 100-meter transect that encompassed

several environmental variables (canopy cover, wetland proximity, and plant height and

density). I stratified the transect into 10-meter sections because it was not practical to

monitor all plants on the transect. Within each 10 x 1 meter section I used computer-

generated random numbers to select plants for monitoring purposes. On each selected

plant I chose up to three branches for periodic fruit counts.

Monitored plants in the City site were spread among four residences and an

undeveloped wooded lot. The four residences were separated by a minimum of 100

meters. One residence had plants tagged in both the front and back yards, but no more

than 15 plants were monitored in any one yard.

Sixty plants were initially monitored for fruit loss at the City site, and 100 in the

Putz site. Plants that died were excluded from analysis, and the final number of plants

consisted of 54 at the City site and 91 at the Putz site. Some plant deaths occurred as a

result of trees falling, mowing, whereas others were due to unknown causes.









Two variables were recorded at Putz to determine if they influenced fruit loss rates:

branch height and the density of ardisia surrounding the plant being monitored. Branches

were grouped into two groups: those above and those below 60 cm. I believe that this

value was a reasonable maximum height for mesomammals to reach if eating the fruits.

Plants were reported in three categories of density. "Minimal density" was 5 or

fewer other ardisia plants within a 1-meter radius, "moderate density" was 6-10 plants

within a 1-meter radius, and "maximum density" was >10 plants within a 1-meter radius.

Generally, minimally-dense plants also had few other herbaceous or shrub species

present, and bare soil was exposed on at least half of the 2-meter diameter circle.

Moderately-dense plants usually contained laurel oak seedlings in the circles, and had

little, if any, exposed soil. Ardisia plants in the densest circles usually had no other

herbaceous or shrub species, and contained a considerable layer of forest duff.

Data Analysis

All fruit loss data were converted from actual numbers to percentages (as a change

from initial counts) and then plotted as fruit loss over time. I used the PROCMIX

statement in SAS statistical software (SAS Institute, version 8.2). I used logit

transformation on the data transformation because the error variance was not constant,

and logit was the appropriate transformation because the variance was dependent on the

value of Y. Transformation produced linear equations where the slopes and Y-intercepts

were compared for significance.

Another statistical program, MATLAB (MathWorks Inc., version 6), was used to

produce probability density function graphs that displayed the average rate of fruit loss at

any given time for the three densities tested. These graphs are the derivatives of the fruit

loss graphs.









Results

Flowering and Fruiting Phenology

Ardisia flowered June through September, and peaked in late July-August (Figure

2-1). There were not sufficient replications for statistical testing, but monitoring multiple

sites for multiple years indicated a trend for later flowering in 2000. In both years, a few

City plants flowered earlier than any other plants.

Similar patterns existed for fruit production, as fruits appeared later in 2000 than in

2001, and emerged sooner on several city plants than other plants (Figure 2-2).

Flowering on individual plants lasted 4 6 weeks, with green fruits becoming clearly

visible 3 4 weeks later. Fruits began ripening in December, approximately four months

after formation. It was mid-late January before all plants had mature fruit (Figure 2-2).

Fruit Loss

Some fruits remained on the plants for the duration of the 10-month sampling

period, by which time the next season's fruits were developing. Fruit loss at Putz

appeared to be greatest between March and June, while the City site appeared to have a

more constant fruit loss rate (Figure 2-3). The loss rates were significantly different

between sites, with plants at Putz losing fruits more quickly than those in the City (p = <

0.0001). The height of the branch above and below 60 cm did not influence fruit loss rate

(p = 0.478, data not reported), but plant density did (p = 0.0002), with minimally dense

plants experiencing the shortest fruit retention times (Figure 2-4.).

Probability density function graphs for the three densities (Figure 2-5) show

average rate of fruit loss for the three densities tested. The peak of the curve represents

the date of greatest fruit loss, and the end point is the expected date of fruit depletion.

The end points were similar for minimal and moderate densities (161 and 165 days after









ripening, respectively), but was much later (332 days) for the maximum density plants.

The intervals between fruit loss rate peaks were similar between the minimal and

moderate density plants (33 days) and between the moderate and maximum density plants

(26 days).

Discussion

Fruiting Phenology

The results support rejecting the constant fruit production hypothesis, as fruits

ripened in late December and January and were retained on the plants for much of the

year (Figure 2-1). The plasticity shown in the timing of plant reproduction (flowering,

fruit production and maturation) dates among years may be related to water stress. The

spring of 2000 was considerably drier than 2001 in north-central Florida (Table 2-1), and

flowering peaked 1-2 months later in 2000 (Figure 2-1). The notion that water influenced

flowering and fruiting dates is also supported by those City plants that flowered in May

(sooner than any other monitored plants), because those few plants received water from

sprinklers. Furthermore, plants at Putz growing close to the bayhead (where soil may

have been wetter) also flowered earlier. One problem with correlating flowering dates to

rainfall is that it difficult to know when rainfall is most important. Pascarella (1998)

found that while rainfall strongly influenced flowering dates in the native Ardisia

escallonoides in southern Florida, the implicated rainfall occurred during the previous

rainy season.

Fruit Loss

Longetivity of fruit persistence

Ardisia fruits persisted on the plant for up to ten months without decaying (Figure

2-3). Furthermore, on a few occasions (on unmonitored plants) I found fruits from the









previous year in good condition still on the plant in January with the new crop of ripe

fruits.

The ability of fruits of many species to resist decay and microbial attack has been

correlated to the presence of secondary compounds (Cipollini and Stiles 1992, Cipollini

and Levey 1997a). These compounds are important because frugivores avoid eating

infected fruits (Travaset et al. 1995, Garcia et al. 1999). However, the use of these

compounds presents a paradox to plants: while vertebrates may select against infected

fruits, they also prefer fruits from plant species that do not incorporate high levels of

secondary compounds (Cipollini and Levey 1997b, Levey and Cipollini 1998).

The low rates of fruit consumption in the field for ardisia fruits by birds and

mammals may be due to relatively high levels of secondary compounds, and the fruit's

apparent resistance to microbial attack supports this hypothesis.

Influence of fruit/plant presentation on loss rate

The lack of a significant difference in fruit loss rates for branches above and below

60 cm may indicate that mesomammalian consumption of ardisia fruits in these sites is

not common. This is supported by the lack of ardisia seeds found in mammal scat (see

this study, Chapter 4).

While plant density was negatively correlated with fruit loss rate (Figure 2-4), a

separate study would be needed to test for cause and effect. For example, ardisia may

grow at lower densities where less tree cover leads to a drier microclimate, or in less

fertile soils. If these conditions occur, they could result in plant stress that then causes a

shorter duration of fruit retention. Without fruitfall traps to distinguish between removal

and abscission, fruit fates could not be differentiated.









Several studies (Manasse and Howe 1983, Sargent 1990) have examined whether

fruit abundance in the immediate vicinity influences removal rate, while Denslow (1987)

studied the effects of plant density on removal rates. In conflicting results, Sargent

(1990) found that greater fruit abundance enhanced removal rates while Manasse and

Howe (1983) found lower fruit abundance led to higher removal rates. Both the Sargent

and Manasse and Howe studies measured the fruit abundance in the immediate area, but

my variable of interest was plant spacing and not fruit abundance. It is possible that both

factors (numbers of fruits and plants in an area) can influence fruit removal rates from

individual plants. Either through attracting more frugivores to the immediate vicinity or

competing among each other for frugivores, the likelihood of an individual fruit being

consumed may be influenced by neighborhood effects. Another possibility is that

increased plant density could obstruct the birds' views while they are searching for fruits.

Denslow (1987) tested the effects of plant density on fruit removal rates, and found

that the more isolated a plant was, the greater the fruit loss rate. Her findings agree with

this study, and her interpretation was that competition for frugivores is greatest among

bushes in close proximity to one another. Denslow studied plants growing in forest

clearings along a river where the separate populations were not within sight of each other.

My study differed in that the plants were all within a single population thus giving the

frugivores the ability to choose the fruit from the plant that offered the preferred density

of surrounding vegetation. At the Putz site different animal species may have been

selecting for different plant densities.

There were many observations of fruits that were partially depulped while still on

the plants, suggesting that small rodents (e.g. cotton mice, Peromyscus gossypinus) are









responsible for at least some fruit loss. In a pattern suggesting mouse consumption,

depulping was usually in a circular pattern from the middle of the fruit cluster, where

only the tops of the fruits were depulped. I also found rodent feeding platforms where

ardisia fruits had been depulped, leaving piles of skins and seeds. These observations

seemed more prevalent in the minimal-density plants, and appeared more often in April

and May. This period coincides with a dry period in Florida (Table 2-1), and a

hypothesis is that the mammals were using the fruits as a source of water. After losing

their moisture-retaining pulp and skin, the seeds of many of these fruits shriveled and

became hard, and probably lost viability. Probably due to their small size and ability to

climb, feeding evidence from small mammals was found in all but the tallest ardisia

plants. Investigation of mammalian consumption and the causes of different fruit loss

rates among different plant densities would be interesting areas for further research. Not

only would this mechanism of fruit loss appear no have no effect on long distance seed

dispersal, but introduces a possible source of seed loss.

Another alternative hypothesis is that a bird species that I had not considered is

responsible for the fruit loss in less dense plants. Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) eat

fruit when available (Martin et al. 1951), and could choose fruits from isolated plants

over those in dense clusters to reduce the risk of predation.

Seasonality of Fruit Loss

The increase in fruit loss rate at Putz between March and June (Figure 2-5) may be

due to migrating birds, because this period coincides with spring migration (Stevenson

and Anderson 1994). That the quieter, less human-visited Putz site experienced this

increased rate and not the City site could be due to habitat preferences of shy, frugivorous

bird species bird species (such as gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis).









Fruit removal rates may also be influenced by the flocking tendencies of different

bird species. At San Felasco Hammock State Preserve just north of Gainesville, FL,

Skeate (1987) censused bird numbers through the year and assessed their usage of native

fruits. Although he considered American Robins (Turdus migratorius) and Cedar

Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) to be common in the winter and spring, their numbers

were erratic. These two highly frugivorous species often travel together in large flocks,

and exhaust local fruit resources before moving on to another area (Skeate 1987, personal

observation). Thus, fruit removal rates from these two species should show steep

declines in relatively short periods of time, such as between my sampling dates. This was

not observed in my study.

Skeate (1987) categorized the native fleshy-fruit producing plants according to

when their fruits matured, and he found only four of 45 species fruited in winter. These

were American holly (Ilex opaca), laurel cherry (Prunus caroliniana), American olive

(Osmanthus americanus), and mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum). It is interesting to

note that these four species shared the traits of being evergreen, and having fruits with

high persistence and low rates of spoilage. Ardisia is also a winter-fruiting plant that has

those same qualities. Skeate (1987) speculated that the fruit's ability to persist on the

plant for long periods without spoiling was a coevolved relationship between the plants

and the erratic behavior of the robins and waxwings that feed so heavily on those fruits.

If they are not depleted by wintering birds, fruits of these species will persist into spring

migration times (personal observation).

The ability of coral ardisia to retain its fruits for long periods is a trait that has been

found with other introduced plants (White and Stiles 1992, Bartuszevige and Gorchov









2006). The majority of native species set fruit in the fall, a period that coincides with fall

migration. Due to high consumption rates, these native fruits are considered to be very

important to birds (Stiles 1980) with most usage occurring in late fall and winter. White

and Stiles (1992), and Bartuszevige and Gorchov (2006) also concluded that if not

removed from plants, the fruits of introduced species tended to persist for long periods

without deteriorating. However, this quality may not reflect any taxonomic relationships,

but rather selection by humans for particular landscaping features. For instance, if having

persistent berries is not a common winter trait for plants, humans may select those

species that have this feature. Indeed, this trait could have also increased the use of

ardisia as a landscape plant (Kitajima et al. 2006).

In conclusion, ardisia flowered in the summer, peaking in July or August. There

was some variation among years that was possibly due to water availability. Green fruits

became visible 3 to 4 weeks following flowering, and took about four months to ripen.

All fruits ripened in the winter, and ripening peaked in January. Fruits usually lasted on

the plants through the summer, and some remained into October. Plant density affected

loss rates, with the more densely growing plants retaining fruits for longer periods.

Branch height did not affect loss rates. There were differences in fruit loss rates among

sites, with the natural sites losing fruits more quickly than those in the city. The use of

fruitfall traps to distinguish between active and passive loss would be a useful next study.









City -2000 __2001

100
80
60 ,


40
20
0


Putz __2000 2001

100
80
60
40
20
0


PPSP -2000
100
80
60
40
20
0
/)V


Figure 2-1. Flowering dates ofArdisia crenata.


/Cij j


e- 01 A\0 A\<'P 0011 4p 40 cg












City


unripe 2000 ripe 2000

. - unripe 2001 .- ripe 2001


P utz


unripe-2000 ripe-2000
S- - unripe-2001 ripe-2001


100 -OO .-
80 *
60
40
20 *
0


PPSP unripe -- ripe




100 .
80 --
60
40
20
0 -


0" ^N \ \
" v ^^y^ i


Figure 2-2. Ardisia crenata fruit production dates for three populations. Values on the
Y-axes represent the % of monitored plants at that stage.


^ ^ ^A,\











--- Putz ---A--- City


N-a


2/18 4/9 5/29


7/18


9/6 10/26


Date
Figure 2-3. Fruit losses from Ardisia crenata plants at two sites during 2001. Error bars
represent standard errors.


....... Minimal -- Moderate Maximum


1/15 1/29 2/28 3/31 5/7 6/1 7/3 7/31 9/1 10/5


date

Figure 2-4. The loss rates ofArdisia crenata fruits at Putz during 2001. The three lines
represent loss rates for three densities ofA. crenata plants. Error bars show
95% confidence intervals.


0
12/30


`i;'s







































-" l- I l i;=A '_- I= J=,- -ii s,_ ,'M- I


spacing


curve peak line end


minimal 55 161
moderate 88 165
maximum 114 332

Figure 2-5. Probability density function graphs for Ardisia crenata fruit loss rates at
three different densities of plants; A) minimal, B) moderate, and C)
maximum. The values given at the top of each graph are the coefficients for
the quadratic equation. Values on the X-axis are the number of days since
fruit ripening. Peak curve values are when fruit losses are greatest, and the
end of the line is the estimated last day of fruit persistence.


I E-i -* I -- l F I.I =- L=- : .- 573 ,=1= I: I l J I*






27


Table 2-1. Rainfall levels for Gainesville, FL (units are inches).
2000 Amount 2001 Amount Average Amount
January 3.17 January 0.80 January 2.60
February 0.69 February 0.91 February 3.27
March 2.13 March 5.36 March 4.11
April 0.92 April 1.01 April 3.48
May 0.51 May 1.36 May 3.72
June 5.78 June 10.83 June 6.64
Total 13.2 20.27 23.82
It is not known how many years data collection constitute averages (Gainesville Sun,
June 30, 2002).














CHAPTER 3
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF Ardisia crenata FRUITS

Introduction

As a means to achieve seed dispersal, many plants have evolved fleshy fruits. Most

fruits adapted for vertebrate consumption consist of seed(s), pulp, and skin, with the pulp

(and to a lesser extent the skin) providing a nutritional reward to dispersers. Although

invertebrates may occasionally be involved (Kaufmann et al. 1991), this type of seed

dispersal is usually carried out by vertebrates.

The nutritional value of fleshy fruits is usually assessed by measuring protein, lipid,

and carbohydrate levels (Stiles 1980), and studies have found that levels of these

nutrients can help to explain the choices made by birds when selecting among the fruits

of different plant species (Johnson et al. 1985, Lepczyk et al. 2000).

Another factor that can influence fruit choices by birds is the seed load. Seed load

is the proportion of fruit mass that is undigestible seed, and not surprisingly, birds may

prefer fruits with lower seed loads (Howe & Vande Kerckhove 1981, Stanley & Lill

2002, Russo 2003).

The research described in Chapter 3 assessed the nutritional content of coral ardisia

fruits and compared the results to other fruit species that represent alternative choices for

birds in northern Florida. If ardisia is obviously nutritionally deficient, it may help to

explain the low rate of fruit consumption by birds.









Methods

Fruits were gathered from two populations on the University of Florida campus

near Bivens Arm Lake and Lake Alice during May of 2002. Following collection, fruits

were weighed and measured with calipers (n = 58). Pulp and skin were manually

separated from seeds to calculate seed load and to determine lipid, soluble carbohydrate,

and protein levels of the pulp and skin. Seeds were not included in the nutritional

analyses because they were not digested during the bird feeding trials (Chapter 4). Fruit

skin is commonly not digested, but after examining feces from feeding trials (Chapter 4),

it appeared that much of the skin was at least partially digested. Consequently, fruit skins

were included in the nutrient analyses.

Fruit material was freeze-dried to a constant mass. Freeze-drying was used rather

than heat drying because high temperatures have been shown to influence the results of

nutritional analyses (Mary Beth Hall, Department of Animal Sciences, personal

communication).

Moisture content of fruits was calculated using the formula: (dry weight / wet

weight) x 100. Samples for lipid analyses were not ground. Samples for protein and

carbohydrate estimates were ground in a Wiley mill with a 1 mm screen. Material was

mixed together and subsampled for nutrition analyses. Three replicates were used for the

lipid analysis and five replicates each for protein and carbohydrates.

Lipid content was assessed using the ether extraction method in which fruit

material (pulp and skin) is dried, weighed, soaked in ether 6-8 hours, dried, and re-

weighed. The difference in weight is due to the movement of lipids into the ether.

The amount of protein was calculated from nitrogen levels using the Kjeldahl

extraction method (Association of Official Agricultural Chemists 1980) with a boric acid









modification during distillation, and a conversion factor of 6.25 to calculate protein

(Pierce and Haenisch 1947).

Carbohydrate analysis was performed using an 80:20 ethanol/water solution to

remove sugars, which are ethanol-soluble. Enzymatic analysis was performed on the

residues to estimate starch content. Carbohydrates are reported as TESC (Total Ethanol

Soluble Carbohydrates). The carbohydrates measured in this analysis include mono- and

oligosaccharides (Hall et al. 1999).

Unless otherwise specified, data are presented as a percentage of dry matter.

Results

Fruit measurements and nutritional data are presented in Table 3-1. The fruits of

coral ardisia averaged 8.9 mm in diameter (sd = 0.41 mm). The average fresh weight of

whole fruits was 244.4 mg (sd = 60.74) with a mean seed mass of 91.4 mg (sd = 24.73),

resulting in an average seed load of 37.6 %. Pulp and skin of fresh fruits averaged 88.5

percent water content (sd = 2.42). The lipid analysis found 8 percent (sd = 3.61) of dry

matter was due to lipid weight. Crude protein levels were calculated to be 3.7 percent (sd

= 0.09), and carbohydrate levels to be 47.8 percent (sd = 0.55).

Finding nutrient deficiencies may suggest why birds rarely eat the fruits of coral

ardisia. To put the fruit nutritional data into context, I included data for other (native)

species from White (1989) (Table 3-2). White (1989) did not provide intraspecific

statistical data (i.e. means and error terms). The values in Table 3-3 are means for the

native species listed, grouped together by seasonality. White (1989) also did not include

seeds with his nutritional analyses. However, other authors have not made that claim

(e.g. Stiles 1980), and failure to omit seeds may affect nutritional analyses with that part

of the fruit that is not typically digested. Mono- and disaccharide concentrations from









White (1989) were reported in the present study as carbohydrate levels, and the

differences in fruit dry mass are probably attributable to indigestible, structural

carbohydrates.

Discussion

When foraging for fruits, birds often have multiple plant species available from

which to choose. Patterns emerge as they consistently choose fruits of some plant species

over others. While the choices can be observed and the preferences reported, explaining

why the selections are made is not easy. To determine some of the factors involved in

fruit choice, birds can be captured and fed artificial fruits where a single variable of

interest is manipulated.

Stanley and Lill (2002) fed birds translucent artificial fruits containing either a

single large or no plastic bead (which simulated a seed). The authors found that the birds

showed a strong preference for fruits that contained no bead. The coral ardisia seed load

value of 37.6% was within the range of 10.5% to 68.0% for winter fruits from native

species (Table 3-2), and was very similar to the mean seed load for winter fruits (Table 3-

3). All of the species listed for spring/summer are probably eaten with greater frequency

than is ardisia (personal observation), and all of those species have lower seed loads than

ardisia.

Conversely, poison ivy fruits are produced in winter and readily consumed by birds

despite a seed load of 68.0%, a trait perhaps overridden by its 47.2% lipid value. Many

fruits that ripen in the fall are high in lipids, and because this period coincides with fall

migration it is assumed that this represents an advancement of the bird-fleshy fruit

relationship by meeting the metabolic demands of migration with high-energy, lipid-rich

fruits (Stiles 1980). Thus, high-lipid fruits are some of the most sought after fruits in the









fall. In addition to this temporal-related trend, certain fruit selections may also be on an

avian taxonomic level, such as the high-lipid fruit preference exhibited by thrushes

(Witmer and Van Soest 1998).

Lipid content of coral ardisia fruits (8.0%) falls within the extremes of winter

(0.7% to 45.2%) and spring/summer (0.2% to 19.1%) native fruit species (Table 3-2).

Lipid values for coral ardisia are less than the mean value for winter fruits, but greater

than the mean lipid value for spring/summer fruits (Table 3-3). It is interesting to note

that coral ardisia has a 10-fold greater lipid value than American holly, and the holly is

probably the most preferred native winter species of those listed (personal observation).

My observation of American Robins stripping American hollies of their fruits and

ignoring the equally abundant coral ardisia fruits (Chapter 4) suggests that despite the

higher lipid values of coral ardisia, other factors influence fruit selection.

The protein content in ardisia fruits (3.7%) falls within the extremes of winter

(1.9% to 6.2%) and spring/summer (2.2% to 9.8%) native fruit species (Tables 3-2),

suggesting that low protein levels is not why birds do not consume ardisia fruits.

Similarly, the carbohydrate content in ardisia fruits (47.8%) falls within the range of

winter (0.0% to 52.0%) and spring/summer (38.3% to 83.3%) fruits (Tables 3-2 and 3-3).

Carbohydrate content may not be very useful for predicting winter fruit usage, as

the species with the highest content gallberryy) retains its fruits for months with

seemingly little consumption by birds, and the species with no carbohydrates (poison ivy)

often has its fruits removed quickly. Lepczyk et al. (2000) found that American Robins

preferred high-sugar, low-lipid fruits in summer, but changed their preferences to low-

sugar, high-lipid fruits in autumn.









It is difficult to draw any firm conclusions about the effects of coral ardisia's

nutritional components on avian fruit preferences when compared to native species,

because some of those species are more-or less-preferred over others (though probably all

would be favored over ardisia fruits). For example, of the winter fruits listed in Table 3-

2, greenbrier and gallberry are rarely eaten, whereas American holly and red cedar are

consumed by birds much more frequently (personal observation). Without a ranking of

the preference values for the native species listed in Table 3-2, those data should only be

used to gauge the variability and "average" of fruit nutritional values.

There are no obvious qualities with regard to seed load or nutritional content that

would explain why birds rarely eat coral ardisia fruits. However, the ability of the fruits

to resist decay suggests high levels of secondary metabolites (Chapter 2), which have

been shown to deter fruit consumption (Cipollini and Levey 1997b, Levey and Cipollini

1998).

To estimate protein using the Kjeldahl extraction method (Association of Official

Agricultural Chemists 1980), nitrogen is measured and then multiplied with a conversion

factor of 6.25. This conversion factor was derived from animal-based samples, where all

nitrogen is associated with protein. However, while this factor is also used to estimate

protein levels in plant-based samples, plants can contain nitrogen-based secondary

compounds. Thus, it is possible to over-estimate the amount of protein in a sample of

plant material if a 6.25 conversion factor is used. Levey et al. (2000) calculated

conversion factors for fruits of 18 plant species in the southeastern United States,

including coral ardisia. These authors determined that the correct conversion factor for

estimating protein levels in coral ardisia fruits is 6.28 (corrected conversion factors






34


ranged from 3.11 to 6.77). This value is nearly identical to that for animal-based

samples, and suggests that any secondary compounds present in coral ardisia do not

contain high levels of nitrogen.

Based on the measured characteristics of the fruit size, seed load, and nutrient

content, there is no reason to believe that birds would not eat coral ardisia fruits if

provided no alternatives. Nor are there any obvious characteristics measured here that

would lead us to expect that coral ardisia would not be preferred over many other fruits.









Table 3-1. Data for coral ardisia fruits (means and standard deviations). Percentages of
nutrient data are on a dry matter basis.


fruit diameter (mm)
fruit mass (mg)
seed mass (mg)
seed load (%)
moisture (%)
lipids (%)
ash (%)
protein (%)
total ethanol-soluble carbohydrates (%)
starch (%)
free glucose (%)


n mean
50 8.9
100 244.2
100 91.4
100 37.6
88.5
3 8.0
2 5.3
5 3.7
5 47.8
5 16.3
5 18.1


sd
0.41
60.74
24.73
5.17
2.42
3.61

0.09
0.55
0.14
0.15














Table 3-2. Nutritional data for fruits available in northern Florida natural areas, grouped
together by season. Fruits from coral ardisia are generally available winter
through summer; values of fall fruits were included as a reference. Data for
all species other than coral ardisia are from White (1989).


Species season fruit seed seed water lipid protein CHO
mass mass load (%) (%) (%) (%)
(mg) (mg) (%)

Ardisia crenata coral ardisia w/s/s/f 244.2 91.4 37.6 88.5 8.0 3.7 47.8

Ilex glabra gallberry w 181.4 3.4 10.5 68.6 0.7 1.9 52.0

Ilex opaca American w 281.7 15.8 23.6 56.0 0.8 4.9 49.2
holly

Juniperus red cedar w 46.3 9.4 25.1 48.4 7.2 3.8 41.7
virginiana

Rhus coppalina winged w 20.7 12.9 62.3 26.0 15.8 2.9 3.4
sumac

Smilax greenbrier w 241.6 35.4 38.1 74.9 0.1 6.2 17.7
rotundifolia

Toxicodendron poison ivy w 21.9 14.9 68.0 3.6 47.2 2.0 0.0
radicans

Gaylussacia blue s/s 285.2 1.6 5.7 82.8 1.2 2.1 82.3
frondosa huckleberry

Morus rubra red s/s 780.1 1.6 3.9 85.6 1.1 5.9 66.4
mulberry

Phytolacca pokeweed s/s 395.3 8.5 20.5 83.6 1.0 9.8 38.3
americana

Prunus serotina black cherry s/s 613.4 108.9 17.8 77.5 0.4 3.9 62.0

Rubus sand s/s 915.3 2.3 7.7 88.9 0.2 5.8 67.0
cuneifolius blackberry

Sambucus elderbeny s/s 78.8 2.2 10.7 87.8 19.1 4.9 43.9
canadensis

Vaccinium highbush s/s 425.5 0.9 3.0 84.3 0.8 4.9 49.2
corymbosum blueberry










Table 3-2 continued

Species season fruit seed seed water lipid protein CHO
mass mass load (%) (%) (%) (%)
(mg) (mg) (%)


Arisaema
triphyllum

Aronia
arbutifolia

Cornus
amomum

Crataegus crus-
galli

Euonymus
americana


Lindera
benzoin

Magnolia
,rItdirlora

Nyssa sylvatica


jack-in-the-
pulpit

red
chokeberry

swamp
dogwood

cockspur
haw

hearts-a-
bustin'-
with-love

spicebush


Southern
magnolia

black gum


f 257.8 72.2 39.2 83.3 0.4 5.8 27.5


f 293.5 11.5 10.2 73.8 0.4 4.4 12.5


f 203.2 42.9 21.1 78.8 2.0 4.8 54.8


f 786.2 80.9 20.6 68.9 0.9 2.4 30.7


f 51.2 19.4 37.9 77.5 7.0 8.2 37.3



f 371.1 141.8 38.2 81.5 34.6 11.9 12.0


f 135.9 56.1 41.3 41.7 36.7 5.2 23.6


f 433.4 128.2 29.6 73.4 14.8 3.6 45.6


Table 3-3. The means and standard deviations per season of the fruit nutrient data from
Table 3-2.
seed load lipids protein carbohydrates
coral ardisia 37.6(5.17) 8.0(3.61) 3.7(0.09) 47.8(0.55)

winter 37.9(22.89) 12.0(18.28) 3.6(1.70) 27.3(23.26)

spring / summer 9.9 (6.85) 3.4 (6.93) 5.3 (2.36) 58.4 (15.39)

fall 29.8 (11.76) 11.7 (16.52) 6.1 (3.09) 28.3 (14.87)














CHAPTER 4
CONSUMPTION OF ARDISIA CRENATA FRUIT BY BIRDS AND THEIR ROLE IN
SUBSEQUENT SEED DISPERSAL

Introduction

Two traits are evident in coral ardisia populations: fruits persist on the plant for a

long time (up to a year, as per Chapter 2) and the ground beneath mature plants is often

covered with seedlings (up to 300 stems per m2, Kitajima et al 2006). These observations

suggest that rates of both fruit consumption and seed dispersal are low. In spite of this,

the plant has become invasive, signifying that at least some successful seed dispersal is

occurring. In some locations, ardisia's dispersal is probably anthropogenic, but this does

not account for the plant's presence in more remote natural areas.

The fruit's bright red color and subsequent high visibility suggests bird dispersal of

the seeds is likely. Mammals, most of which are color blind, tend to feed on odorous

fruits (Van der Pijl 1972). Furthermore, fruits that utilize mammals for seed dispersal are

usually sweet-tasting (Van der Pijl 1972), and fall to the ground soon after ripening

(Stiles 1980). Using both field observations and laboratory experiments, the intent of the

present study was to evaluate birds as dispersal agents of ardisia.

Field observations consisted of monitoring bird activity when working in ardisia

stands during the collection of plant data (Chapter 2). Laboratory experiments consisted

of: 1) determining if certain frugivorous birds would indeed eat the fruits, 2) measuring

their preference for ardisia fruits compared to another native fruit, and 3) assessing any

effects of consumption on seed viability. If successful, the methods from these feeding









and germination trials would be used to develop a protocol to further assess birds as seed

dispersal agents of other introduced plants.

Methods

Field Observations

While collecting the life-history data reported in Chapter 2, approximately 100

hours of field observations were conducted to document birds feeding on the fruits of

both ardisia and native species. Although fruit traits do not suggest mammalian

consumption, it does not mean that it can be ruled out. Consequently mammal scat found

near ardisia stands was examined for ardisia seeds.

Selection of Birds for Experiments

Because coral ardisia fruits ripen in the winter and most persist through the spring

(Chapter 2), the bird species chosen for feeding trials were those that were considered to

be the greatest fruit consumers during this period in northern Florida (Table 4-1). They

included Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), American Robin (Turdus migratorius),

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), and Northern Mockingbird (Mimuspolyglottos).

Two other frugivorous species were tested (European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and Fish

Crow (Corvis ossifragus)) because they were already available in captivity where the

feeding trials were conducted. The remaining four native bird species were captured

using mist-nets at several locations in Alachua County.

Captive Feeding Trials

Captive feeding trials were performed at the USDA's National Wildlife Research

Center, in Gainesville, Florida. The European Starlings, Gray Catbirds, and Northern

Mockingbirds were housed and tested in individual cages measuring 18 inches x 18

inches x 18 inches. The Fish Crows were housed and tested in cages measuring 10 feet









long x 10 feet wide x 6 feet high. American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were held in

the larger cages until they acclimated to captivity, and then were placed in the smaller

cages for individual testing.

While in captivity, birds were fed a maintenance diet of moistened Purina kitten

chow, fly pupae, and fruit. Several species of fruits were offered including both wild and

cultivated species. The fruit were never of the same species used as control fruits tested

for that bird species. This was done because fruits contain secondary metabolites that

may affect consumption rates (Levey and Cipollini 1998, Cipollini and Levey 1997a,

1997b, 1997c).

Northern Mockingbirds were the quickest to acclimate, and would often begin

feeding within an hour. American Robins and Cedar Waxwings took the longest to

acclimate, and one Cedar Waxwing died after not feeding for the first three days. To

entice birds to eat during acclimation, birds were often given a branch of a native plant

that held fruits. It was found that presenting food that the birds may have been feeding

on-and in a manner that they were accustomed to-helped their acclimatization. Before

undergoing feeding trials, birds had to show that they would feed from cups suspended

from the sides of the cages. The European Starlings and Fish Crows had been in

captivity for some time and were already feeding freely. Birds were housed individually

and could not see each other while in the test cages.

Testing lasted for three days. On the first day, birds were offered the fruits of a

native species that would later act as a control fruit during preference trials. The purpose

was to ensure that the birds being tested would eat the fruit of that plant species. On day

two, birds were offered coral ardisia fruits only. If birds failed to consume fruits on









either of these two days, they would not proceed to the choice test and would be released.

In the choice test on the third day, birds were offered equal numbers of test fruits (ardisia)

along with control fruits, and the remaining fruits were counted hourly to determine

which fruit species the birds preferred. The number of birds tested for each species

ranged from five to ten.

During testing, food from the previous night was removed at 0730 hours, and birds

were without food for one hour. Test fruits were placed in cups from 0830 until 1230.

Twenty fruits of each species were placed in the same dish, and counted hourly for a total

of five times (t = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4). If the birds ate all fruits before 1230, no additional fruit

was provided and maintenance diet was placed back into cage. Birds often dropped fruits

during the trials, and many fell outside of the cage. During the hourly counts, these fruits

were returned to the feeding cups and listed as fruits remaining. Failure to return these

fruits would have led to an over-estimation of fruits consumed. For some birds, a video

camera was used to observe fruit handling during feeding trials.

Voided ardisia seeds were gathered to assess germination rates. Seeds were placed

in petri dishes between two sheets of filter paper, wetted with deionized water, and put

into germination chambers. The conditions in these chambers were 12 hours of light per

day with temperature during the light period set at 250 C and 150 C during darkness. No

more than 100 seeds from each bird species were evaluated, and no more than twenty

seeds went into a single petri dish.

Selection of Native Plants for Experiments

The initial protocol called for the fruits of American holly (Ilex opaca) to be used

as the native (control) fruits for preference trials. American holly grew naturally at two









of the field sites and fruited at the same time of the year as ardisia, and thus served as an

alternative fruit choice similar in size and color to ardisia.

Because it was not known if European Starlings would eat American holly fruits,

and because they were mainly used for protocol evaluation, the fruits of camphor trees

(Cinnamomum camphora), sometimes eaten by starlings, were selected for use as the

control fruits for European Starling testing.

American Robins arrived in Alachua County early during the winter of 2000-2001,

which may have been due to very low temperatures earlier than usual. After their arrival

into the county, it became difficult to find fruits on American holly trees. While

American holly fruits were used for the American Robin feeding trials, alternative fruit

species for all other birds had to be found. In selecting alternative control fruits, species

were chosen that shared fruiting periods with ardisia (i.e. winter, spring), and those that I

knew were eaten by the relevant bird species.

The fruits chosen for Cedar Waxwing were those from East Palatka hollies (Ilex x

attenuata). This tree is commonly used for landscaping around North Central Florida,

and like American holly, has red fruits winter through summer if they are not removed by

birds. East Palatka holly is a hybrid between dahoon (Ilex cassine) and American holly.

Fruit choice for Gray Catbirds was Godfrey's privet (Forestiera godfreyi), a native

shrub whose springtime fruits are often eaten by Gray Catbirds (personal observation).

Fruit choice for Northern Mockingbirds and Fish Crows was highbush blueberry

(Vaccinium corymbosum). This commercially-important species also occurs naturally,

and both of these bird species are known to eat the fruits in commercial groves (Mike

Avery, USDA, personal communication).









Data Analysis

Data from choice test feeding trials were analyzed using GENMOD in SAS

statistical software (SAS Institute, version 8.2). Data were logit transformed and

Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) (Agresti 1996) were estimated. These GEE

estimates were the slope estimates of control and test results, and the slopes were then

tested for significance from each other. Significant differences meant that the bird

species being tested chose one fruit species over another.

Results

Field Observations

In December of 2000, a flock of about 40 American Robins come into the Putz site.

The birds gorged themselves on American holly fruits, and most of the birds departed

when the fruits were depleted. A couple of birds remained for several days and fed on

what appeared to be the less desirable fruits of a Smilax spp. and American olive

(Osmanthus americanus) until these fruits, too, were exhausted. There were numerous

ardisia plants with ripe fruits in the area, but no robins were ever seen feeding on ardisia

fruits.

In the second half of April 2002 at the Putz site, several Gray Catbirds were

observed consuming ardisia fruits. There were about sixteen birds on three acres of

ardisia plants, and each bird appeared to swallow approximately three fruits every six to

fifteen minutes. This was the only time out of two and a half years (three spring

migrations) that Gray Catbirds were observed in the ardisia stands, and Gray Catbirds

were the only species observed to feed on ardisia fruits in the field.

Outside the study sites, I found regurgitated ardisia seeds under a Northern

Mockingbird song perch at Carr Hall on the University of Florida campus, and was told









of a Northern Mockingbird eating fruits during an especially cold winter evening

(Carmine Lanciani, Zoology Department, University of Florida, personal

communication). Finally, the founder of Birdsong Nature Center in Thomasville,

Georgia, reported a single occurrence of a flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding on the fruits

of coral ardisia at the center (Kathleen Brady, Birdsong Nature Center, personal

communication).

Mammal scat in the vicinity of the field sites often contained the seeds of other

plants, but none contained ardisia seeds. On a single occasion I did find ardisia seeds in

mammal feces, but not at any study site.

Feeding Trials

All six bird species consumed native and ardisia fruits during the no choice trials.

Fish Crows were the most reluctant species to consume fruit, where only five often birds

consumed ardisia fruit during no choice trials. Therefore, only five Fish Crows were

used for the preference (choice) trials. Similarly, while five Gray Catbirds passed the no

choice test, one of them ate nothing during the preference trials.

European Starling (Figure 4-1) and gray catbird (Figure 4-2) displayed no taste

preference between control and test fruits (Table 4-2). The remaining four species,

Northern Mockingbird (Figure 4-3), American Robin (Figure 4-4), Cedar Waxwing

(Figure 4-5), and Fish Crow (Figure 4-6), showed significant preference for control fruits

(Table 4-2). These four species ate few ardisia fruits until all the control fruits had gone.

Germination rates for voided seeds from Gray Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds,

American Robins, and Cedar Waxwings did not differ from manually depulped seeds

(Table 4-3). Consumption by Fish Crows did significantly decrease seed germination (p

< 0.05, Fischer's chi-square test) (Table 4-3), probably due to seed coat damage that was









incurred while attempting to depulp seeds with their beaks. Germination rates for seeds

voided by European Starling were not determined.

All bird species swallowed ardisia fruits whole, and it appeared all species

regurgitated seeds, with the exception of Cedar Waxwings, which defecated seeds. In

addition to swallowing whole fruits, some Fish Crows also attempted to manually

separate fruit pulp from the seed in a technique known as mashing (Moermond and

Deslow 1985). However, because the fruits of ardisia have pulp that tightly adheres to

the seed, they were not very successful. Some fruits had no pulp removed while others

were partially depulped, but none were completely depulped through mashing. The only

seeds that were completely depulped by the Fish Crows were those that were done so in

their crops. Of these, the five birds completely depulped only 29 seeds (Table 3-2), and

of those, a single bird was responsible for 17 seeds.

Discussion

Field Observations

When the American Robins exhausted the American holly fruits at the Putz site,

they had two choices: either remain and feed on less-preferred fruits, or leave the site to

forage for alternate food sources. Two individuals chose the former alternative, but most

of the birds made the latter choice. Even for the two robins that remained, ardisia fruits

were ignored.

The observation of Gray Catbirds feeding on ardisia occurred during spring

migration, a period when only three native plants were observed to produce fruits. These

include Godfrey's privet, red mulberry (Morus rubra), and blackberry spp. (Rubus sp.).

However, like ardisia, winter-fruiting species retained fruits if they had not been removed

by birds. These included East Palatka holly trees in urban communities where frugivores









were less common and a single American holly whose fruits the birds did not eat. It

appeared that red mulberry and Godfrey's privet in Alachua County did not produce fruit

in 2002, possibly due to a late hard freeze (18.80 F) on February 28

(http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/) that may have damaged the plants. Red mulberry produces one

of the most frequently bird-consumed fruits in Alachua County (personal observation),

and I have seen Gray Catbirds eating unripe red mulberry fruits while ignoring abundant

and ripe ardisia fruits on the University of Florida campus. The choice of Gray Catbirds

to feed on ardisia fruits during the spring of 2002 at the Putz site may have been related

to the apparent crop failure of Godfrey's privet and red mulberry in Alachua County. If

crop failure in other plant species forced Gray Catbirds to eat more ardisia fruits than

normal in spring 2002, then my observations may not be indicative of a typical year.

Coral ardisia grows in dense patches of hardwood forest understory, a habitat it

shares with its analogous congener in southern Florida, shoebutton ardisia (A. elliptica).

Similarly, shoebutton ardisia's primary disperser seems to be Gray Catbirds (Koop 2004),

and during spring migration (Tony Koop, personal communication). Gray Catbirds often

remaining in dense low-growing vegetation. They are common in winter in Florida, and

waves of migrants come through northern Florida from mid-April through mid-May

(http://myfwc.com/bba/GRCA.htm). Stragglers linger into June.

Research discussed in Chapter 2 showed that fruits of coral ardisia can be expected

on plants January through October. Fruit loss rates increased in March and continued

through June, with loss rates peaking April through early May. This loss rate is

consistent with populations of Gray Catbirds in northern Florida. Most American Robins

leave Florida in February, with far fewer numbers remaining into March. Cedar









Waxwings begin leaving in April, although stragglers linger into May. Skeate (1987)

found that winter flocks of American Robins and Cedar Waxwings in northern Florida

were nomadic, remaining in an area as long as fruit were present, and then dispersing to

other areas. Based on fruit loss rates, it would not appear that American Robins or Cedar

Waxwings are responsible for much of the coral ardisia fruit loss.

The observations of Cedar Waxwings eating ardisia at Birdsong Nature Center

fruits may be considered atypical behavior. Kathleen Brady reported that their ardisia

plants grow under scattered mature trees, a habitat different from that normally invaded

by ardisia: a closed-canopy forest (personal communication). Lima (1993) argued that

birds choose habitats based upon their escape tactics from predators. He described Cedar

Waxwing's escape strategy as aerial, and my observations of Cedar Waxwings being

attacked by a merlin (Falco columbarius) while mist-netting support this. Based on

Lima's reasoning, Cedar Waxwings might avoid the forest understory where their escape

routes would be compromised.

Kaoru Kitajima (Botany Department, University of Florida) observed that rates of

fruit loss in coral ardisia's native range (Japan) appeared to be greater than those in

northern Florida (personal communication, unpublished data). In Japan, Brown-eared

bulbuls (Hypsipetes amaurotis) are known to consume the fruit of ardisia, but other Asian

forest-interior bird species, such as the pale thrush (Turduspallidus), may consume the

fruits as well (K. Kitajima, personal communication). Brown-eared bulbuls are the

family Pycnonotidae, a family with no native North American representatives. This lack

of closely-related species in North America could help explain ardisia's low fruit









consumption rates in its introduced range, and may be a situation where plant population

and expansion is limited by a lack of suitable seed dispersers.

For many plant species, high mortality-especially at the seedling stage-tends to

swamp out the importance of seed dispersal (Howe 1993, Howe et al. 1985, Schupp

1988, Chapman and Chapman 1995). Thus, while it is generally accepted that seed

dispersal is not as important a stage in the life history of a plant as once thought (Schupp

1995), seed dispersal could be limiting for introduced species. It may be possible that

coral ardisia lacks suitable dispersers because it lacks suitable fruit consumers.

Field observations indicate that Gray Catbirds may be the most important avian

consumers of ardisia fruits. Some fruit may also be eaten by Northern Mockingbirds and

Cedar Waxwings.

The lack of ardisia seeds in mammal scat supports earlier findings in this study

(Chapter 2) where low-growing branches did not lose fruits at a greater rate than those

that grew higher. However, the one instance of finding mammal scat containing ardisia

seeds indicates that at least one species will consume fruits from this plant. Dozier

(1999) reported ardisia seeds in mammal feces, and what she called "vomit piles." On

several occasions I also found piles of seeds (not in feces), but in my opinion they

appeared to be the result of masticating a mouthful of fruits from which the pulp was

sucked and the seeds spit out en masse. Furthermore, these were found within ardisia

stands, and not at a distance away from the plants where one might enough time to have

passed for a toxin to trigger vomiting. Dozier speculated that the raccoons made the

vomit piles, and I have no reason to disagree with that hypothesis. It is not known what

effect these actions have on seed dispersal of coral ardisia.









Feeding Trials

No bird species preferred the fruits of ardisia over control fruits. While four of six

chose control fruits over ardisia, the remaining two species (European Starling and gray

catbird) showed no choice preference for either test or control fruits. Thus, laboratory

feeding trials support field observations that that most birds prefer native fruits over those

of ardisia.

The predictive ability of the feeding trials may be limited because they were

conducted with a single species of control fruit. Birds often have several choices

available when foraging for fruits, and they make their choices based on what is

available, including more than just the two choices that I presented. Furthermore, I chose

control fruits with the knowledge that the bird species being tested would eat that fruit,

conceivably biasing selection for control fruits over ardisia fruits. However, the feeding

trials showed that all species could eat coral ardisia fruits.

Northern Mockingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, and Fish Crows did not begin to

consume ardisia fruits until nearly all control fruits were exhausted (Figures 4-3, 4-5, and

4-6, respectively). Thus, while these three species exhibited significant differences in

fruit preference (Table 4-2), the values for those preference slopes could have been

different if more fruits were used in the feeding trials. For example, if enough fruits were

used of each species to meet the caloric requirements for the four hours of the feeding

trial, these three species may not have eaten any of the coral ardisia fruits. Alternatively,

if only five fruits were used for each fruit species, the metabolic demands of the birds

might have forced them to consume all ten fruits in the first hour of the experiment. A

fruit count at the end of the hour would have given the impression that there was no

preference for either fruit species.









In an attempt to get fruits with similar caloric values, fruits were chosen that were

of similar size as those of ardisia. However, the choice of highbush blueberry did not

meet these criteria. Probably as a result of selective breeding by humans, the fruits of this

species were larger than those of ardisia. Although the smallest fruits were used in

feeding trials, they were still larger than the test fruits. Their large size could have

resulted in less ardisia fruits eaten by Northern Mockingbirds and Fish Crows, especially

if the blueberries met the caloric requirements for the five-hour test.

Wheelwright (1985) found that the gape width of birds was correlated to the size of

the fruits they were able to swallow, with the wider-gaped species being able to swallow

larger-diameter fruits. If birds tried to swallow fruits of a diameter larger or similar to

their gape width, they were often unsuccessful and dropped fruits to the ground.

While the average diameter of coral ardisia fruits was measured and found to be 8.9

mm (sd = 0.41), the diameters of control fruits were not determined. The numbers of

fruit dropped during feeding trials were not counted, but if fruits were a bit too large for

the smallest of the birds tested, then the dropping and replacement of ardisia fruits may

have affected the results by prolonging the period that coral ardisia fruits remained.

Cedar Waxwings were the smallest of the birds tested, and their control fruits were

noticeably smaller than those of coral ardisia. Cedar Waxwings were the species that

dropped the greatest number of fruits.

Using their bill, some birds mash fruits to remove seeds prior to swallowing, a feat

not possible with coral ardisia fruits. Coral ardisia fruit pulp adheres very strongly to the

seed, a quality that may limit consumption to gulpers (see Chapter 1). Fish Crows

appeared to be both mashers and gulpers. Initially, they tried mashing the fruits, but









when unsuccessful with separating the seed from the pulp, some became gulpers and

swallowed fruits whole. Only a single bird was able to completely clean seeds of pulp

before regurgitating them, and seed survivability was compromised when damaged

during mashing (Table 4-3).

The experiences with Fish Crows suggest two negative consequences to plants with

tightly-adhering fruit pulp. First, potential seed dispersal agents may be limited if fruit-

mashing birds, such as Fish Crows, choose mashable fruits for consumption. When

monitoring fruit loss rates (Chapter 2), I found some fruits with angled puncture wounds

on the top and bottom of the fruit. The wounds suggested a heavy-beaked bird sampled

and rejected the fruit. Heavy beaked birds are those that mash fruits (Moermond and

Denslow 1985). Second, the tight-adhering pulp can result in seed mortality, as the Fish

Crows damaged the seed while attempting to separate seed from pulp. Birds may lack

the ability to control the method of seed voidance, as it seems that with the difficulty in

separating seed from pulp in the crop, they would have allowed fruits to pass through

their digestive tract where the seed would have been cleaned of digestible material.

Seed handling and depulping strategies were determined by observing the voided

seeds and assessed using video footage. Defecated seeds were in feces, and were stained

by the skin. Regurgitated seeds were very clean, with no stains or pulp remaining, with

the exception of those regurgitated by Fish Crows. The video camera was useful to

watch birds trying to swallow (and perhaps taste) the fruits, but because voidance

happens so quickly, it was not always clear whether seeds were regurgitated or defecated.

A plastic or glass section of the cage may have allowed better video recording than the

wire mesh.









In addition, if determining the duration of seed retention were an objective, fruits should

have been fed to the birds singly to be certain that the voided seed was from a certain

fruit. Video footage showed birds eating several fruits over a period of time before

ridding any seeds.

While it was not one of the objectives, better data concerning seed voidance

strategies and seed retention times may have been helpful to further assess bird species as

agents of seed dispersal, and would help to project plant population expansions.

The methods evaluated in this chapter appear to be capable of evaluating different

species of birds as seed dispersal agents. The field observations suggest birds in the

family Mimidae (especially gray catbird, but also Northern Mockingbird) are likely the

greatest consumers of coral ardisia fruits. Captive feeding trials suggest Gray Catbirds as

coral ardisia fruit consumers. None of the bird species that swallowed whole fruit

negatively affected seed germination rates.

Coral ardisia was introduced into the New World over 100 years ago and has

remained a part of Florida landscaping. It has since been recognized as being an invasive

weed, and has done so despite that fact that consumption of its fruits by possible seed

dispersers is an uncommon event. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the

reproductive ecology of coral ardisia in its introduced range of northern Florida.

It was found that plants flower through the summer and fruits ripen in mid-winter.

The fruits can persist on the plants for up to one year, with the greatest rate of fruit loss

occurring in late April. Plants in a natural area lost fruits at a faster rate than those in an

urban area, and isolated plants lost fruits quicker than those in denser populations. The

period of greatest fruit loss coincides with the spring migration of birds through Florida,









and suggests that some consumption of fruits by birds is occurring. Fruits were found not

to be nutritionally inferior to native fruits, nor were any other factors found that would

suggest a cause as to why fruits of coral ardisia are rarely eaten. Despite many hours in

the field, observations of birds feeding on coral ardisia fruits was limited to a single day

with a single bird species (gray catbird). Captive feeding trials found that six species of

birds would eat coral ardisia fruits, but often favored the fruits of native species to those

of coral ardisia. Gray Catbirds and European Starlings showed the greatest acceptance of

coral ardisia fruits during captive feeding trials. Cedar Waxwings defecated seeds after

eating fruits, while all other species regurgitated seeds. Seed germination rates were no

different for 5 of 6 birds species tested between seeds defecated or regurgitated compared

to those that were manually depulped. From damage incurred while manually trying to

remove seeds from fruits, Fish Crows significantly decreased seed germination rates.

However, Fish Crows ate the fewest coral ardisia fruits.

Even if the dispersal of coral ardisia fruit by birds to beyond the edge of a stand is a

rare event, in the long-term these infrequent events may have a significant cumulative

effect. Coral ardisia seedlings have been shown to have a very high survival rate in field

studies (22 44%; Lindstrom 2002), so the dispersal of relatively few viable seeds into

suitable habitats could result in the establishment of new populations.

To test the likelihood of this further it would be necessary to use fruit traps under

the monitored plants so that the mechanisms of fruit loss could be better discerned. Now

that it is known which are the most likely species of bird to eat coral ardisia fruits and the

conditions under which coral ardisia fruits are most likely to be eaten, it might be

worthwhile to conduct further studies similar to those of Bartuszevige and Gorchov









(2006), in their study of the spread ofLonicera mackii by birds. That could include, for

example, capturing sufficient numbers of Gray Catbirds in and around coral ardisia

stands to evaluate if any of them voided coral ardisia seeds. Also the time between

ingestion and voidance could be measured and compared to how far the birds are likely to

move during that time. Alternatively, it might be interesting to establish why coral

ardisia fruit are not more appealing to native birds, either by examining fruit

characteristics such as the content of secondary compounds or by a more realistic

presentation of fruit on whole coral ardisia plants to birds in larger aviaries.

In conclusion, we have advanced from not knowing whether bird dispersal of coral

ardisia was possible to being able to say that it could occur. Given the number of

invasive plants for which bird dispersal is claimed but which lack sufficient evidence

(Meisenburg and Fox 2002), there are many of other applications of these types of study

that could be useful in improving our understanding of, and predictions about, the spread

of invasive plant species.














- Ardisia crenata
-*- Cinamwomum camphora


1 2 3 4


Hour

Figure 4-1. Results from European Starling feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia
crenata and Cinnamomum camphora (n=4). The birds showed no preference
for either fruit species. Bars represent standard error.













Ardisia crenata
- Forestiera godfreyi


1 2 3 4
Hour


Figure 4-2. Results from gray catbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and
Forestiera godfreyi (n=5). The birds showed no preference for either fruit
species. Bars represent standard error.











-- Ardisia crenata


-- Vaccinium corymbosum


1 2 3 4


Hour



Figure 4-3. Results from Northern Mockingbird feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia
crenata and Vaccinium corymbosum (n=5). The birds showed a preference
for V corymbosum. Bars represent standard error.






58






Ardisia crenata
25 flex opaca
2 20
S15

S10




0 1 2 3 4

Hour


Figure 4-4. Results from American Robin feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata
and Ilex opaca (n=10). The birds showed a preference for I. opaca. Bars
represent standard error.














-- Ardisia crenata
- Ilex x attenuata


0 1 2 3 4

Hour


Figure 4-5. Results from Cedar Waxwing feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata
and Ilex x attenuate (n=10). The birds showed a preference for x attenuata.
Bars represent standard errors.













- Ardisia crenata
- Vaccinium corymbosum


1 2 3 4


Hour

Figure 4-6. Results from Fish Crow feeding trials with fruits from Ardisia crenata and
Vaccinium corymbosum (n=5). Bars represent standard error.











Species


Table 4-1. Population statuses of the birds tested. Data are from Stevenson
and Anderson (1994).
Alachua County status


Fish Crow Fairly common to common in summer, but uncommon to
abundant in winter (irregular)
American Robin Abundant in winter, majority leave before April
Gray catbird Uncommon in winter, abundant mid-April to early May
Northern Mockingbird Common to abundant year-round resident, numbers are reduced
away from humans and in wooded communities
Cedar Waxwing Common to abundant from late winter through spring
European Starling Common to fairly common year-round, with population
increasing from wintering individuals that depart February
through March












Table 4-2. Transformed slope values from feeding trials. Significance levels indicate
that two bird species did not significantly choose one fruit species over the
other, while the remaining four bird species preferred control fruits over test
(A. crenata) fruits.
Slopes
ardisia fruits native fruits level of significance
European Starling -0.86 -0.65 0.5961
Gray catbird -1.06 -1.03 0.3566
Northern Mockingbird 0.0* -1.83 <.0001
American Robin -0.69 -3.46 <.0001
Cedar Waxwing -0.85 -29.68 **
Fish Crow -0.86 -4.77 <.0001

* = Did not differ significantly from zero.
** = SAS could not calculate due to its low value (there were no fruits after the first
hour)










Table 4-3. Ardisia seed germination rates from seeds voided during feeding trials.
Control fruits were those that were manually depulped.


American Robin
control


Gray catbird
control

Northern Mockingbird
control

Cedar Waxwing
control

Fish Crow*


seeds
100
100


germinated
100
100


% germ
100
100


remarks
regurgitated


regurgitated


regurgitated


defecated


89.7 wholly depulped
87.5 partially depulped-intact
seed coat
55.6 partially depulped-
damaged seed coat
100


control


* FICR frugivory significantly decreased seed germination rate at the 0.05 level.















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Michael Meisenburg was born in North Tonawanda, New York, and graduated

from Starpoint Central High School in 1982. After nearly 6 years in the Air Force, he

moved to Port Orange, Florida, and soon landed a job spraying aquatic herbicides and

algaecides. It was during this influential period in his life that he learned the joy that

comes from killing invasive plants. He graduated from UF in 1999 with his B.S. in

wildlife ecology and conservation, and currently works as a biologist for the Center for

Aquatic and Invasive Plants at UF conducting research on killing invasive plants.

Michael is chair of the Control and Evaluations Committee of the Florida Exotic Pest

Plant Council and president of Alachua Audubon Society. He has been married for 10

years to Vasiliki, and they have many animals together. Michael is an avid fisherman,

gardener, birder, naturalist, and invasive plant killer.