Ecology of Seed Dispersal in Neotropical Melastomataceae Frugivory

Frutos de melastomatáceas y de animales que las dispersan / Fruits of melastomataceae and animals that disperse them

book chapter "Systematics, Evolution and Ecology of Melastomataceae", edited by: Goldenberg R, Almeda F, Michelangeli FA, Springer Nature, 2022. whose authors are: João Vitor S. Messeder; Tadeu J. Guerra; Marco A. Pizo; Pedro G. Blendinger ( IER);  y Fernando A. O. Silveira.

In this chapter, we provide an overview of the dispersal ecology of Neotropical Melastomataceae based on a review of knowledge about (1) abiotic dispersal mechanisms of dry-fruited species; (2) the characteristics of the berries that make them excessively consumed by a wide variety of frugivores, (3) the extensive literature on frugivory in Melastomataceae, highlighting the main primary and secondary consumers, and (4) the link between frugivory and quality of seed dispersal service. Neotropical Melastomataceae include a wide diversity of fruit types and seed dispersal mechanisms, mainly mediated by vertebrates and invertebrates acting as primary and secondary dispersers. Most studies focus on dispersal by frugivores of the megadiverse genus Miconia, while little is known about abiotic dispersal mechanisms. The fleshy-fruited Melastomataceae are abundant and conspicuous elements of neotropical vegetation. The consumption of berries by a wide diversity of frugivores is favored by their relatively small sizes, large pulp:seed ratio, large fruit crops, staggered fruiting periods, and soluble monosaccharide composition that facilitate their widespread consumption as a reliable food source.