Seed science research vol:14 issue:2 pages:147-159
Epizoochory is widely recognized as an effective long-distance seed dispersal mechanism. Nevertheless, few studies have focused on the investigation of its influencing factors. One of the key aspects of epizoochory is the adhesive interaction between seeds and furs. We describe a new method to quantify experimentally and standardize the adhesivity of seeds to animal fur, as a measure of epizoochorous dispersal potential. The method excludes the impact of animal behaviour and environmental factors, and allows the ranking of species according to their adhesivity score. We measured adhesivity scores for 66 species on the furs of seven mammals. Deep furs with long, rough, undulated hairs implanted at a large angle were most suited for seed adhesion, while seeds adhered less well to shallow furs with short, smooth, straight hairs implanted at small angles. Seeds with specialized adhesive appendages had higher adhesivity scores than seeds with unspecialized appendages and seeds without appendages. However, an interaction effect between certain seed and fur types exists. Although seed morphology is a good predictor for seed adhesivity on fur, less well-adhering seed types often still have relatively high adhesivity scores. Therefore, it is likely that nearly all species are, to some extent, able to disperse epizoochorously.