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Abstract Detail


Flanders, Nicholas [1], Walters, Eric [1], Randle, Christopher P. [2], Musselman, Lytton [3].

The Role of Generalist Avian Frugivores in Determining the Distribution of the Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum.

The oak mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) is a stem parasite found across the southern United States (US) that is dependent on avian frugivores for seed dispersal and serves as the sole larval host plant for the great purple hairstreak (Atlides halesus) lepidopteran in the eastern US. Because most mistletoes are restricted to a narrow range of suitable recruitment sites and avian frugivores are more visible than other guilds of seed dispersers, mistletoe-frugivore systems offer good opportunities for the study of seed dispersal and the effect of frugivores on plant distributions. Mechanisms driving observed oak mistletoe habitat relationships are unclear, and we sought to use similarities in estimated habitat relationships of the mistletoe and its avian dispersers to infer the role of frugivores in determining mistletoe distributions. We collected presence-absence data on oak mistletoe shrubs and avian seed dispersers from forested habitats in eastern Virginia and North Carolina during winters (Jan-Mar) 2016 and 2017. This data was analyzed using occupancy models, and the resulting detection probability estimate of 0.216 (SE = 0.177) for the cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), a focal avian frugivore, suggests an observer has a less than 0.25 probability of detecting the presence of this species given its use of a site. This finding emphasizes the need to account for imperfect detection when estimating distributions of avian seed dispersers. Similarities between regional distributions of oak mistletoe and avian frugivores coupled with results from a field planting experiment suggest that seed dispersal patterns are more important than local environmental conditions in determining oak mistletoe habitat relationships.

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1 - Old Dominion University, Biological Sciences, 110 Mills Godwin Building, 5115 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, VA, 23529, USA
2 - Sam Houston State University, Department Of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 1900 Avenue I, Hunstville, TX, 77340, USA
3 - Old Dominion University, MARY P HOGAN PROF OF BOTANY, Department Of Biological Sciences, Norfolk, VA, 23529-0266, USA

seed dispersal
avian frugivore
species distribution
parasitic plant.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 11, Ecology Section - Population Biology
Location: Sundance 5/Omni Hotel
Date: Monday, June 26th, 2017
Time: 1:30 PM
Number: 11001
Abstract ID:336
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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