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Dung-beetles duped into dispersing and burying seeds.

13 Oct 2015 - 08:15

Dung-beetles duped into dispersing and burying seeds.

Jeremy Midgley, Gary Bronner and Joseph White from Biological Sciences at UCT and Steve Johnson from UKZN have reported in Nature Plants that the restio Ceratocaryum argenteum which has its seeds buried by the dung beetle Epirinus flagellatus. The seeds look and smell like dung and this deceives the beetle into burying the seed, as it would a dung pellet.  Presumably once the beetle tries to eat or lay an egg in the seed it realises it has been had.  This is perfect for the seed which is now out of reach of damage by fire. This is the best example globally of deception in seed dispersal and the first example of dung beetles being the primary seed disperser.

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