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A frugivore is an animal that thrives mostly on raw fruits or succulent fruit-like produce of plants such as roots, shoots, nuts and seeds. Approximately 20% of
mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
ian herbivores eat fruit. Frugivores are highly dependent on the abundance and nutritional composition of fruits. Frugivores can benefit or hinder fruit-producing plants by either dispersing or destroying their seeds through digestion. When both the fruit-producing plant and the frugivore benefit by fruit-eating behavior the interaction is called mutualism.


Frugivore seed dispersal

Seed dispersal Seed dispersal is the movement, spread or transport of seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The ban ...
is important for plants because it allows their progeny to move away from their parents over time. The advantages of seed dispersal may have led to the evolution of fleshy
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
s, which entice animals to consume them and move the plant's seeds from place to place. While many fruit-producing plant species would not disperse far without frugivores, their seeds can usually
germinate seedlings, three days after germination Germination is the process by which an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell t ...

germinate
even if they fall to the ground directly below their parent. Many types of animals are seed dispersers. Mammal and bird species represent the majority of seed-dispersing species. However, frugivorous tortoises, lizards, amphibians, and even fish also disperse seeds. For example,
cassowaries ''Casuarius'' is a genus of birds in the order Casuariiformes, whose members are the cassowaries. It is classified as a ratite (flightless bird without a keel (bird anatomy), keel on its sternum bone) and is native to the tropical forests of Ne ...

cassowaries
are a keystone species because they spread fruit through digestion, many of the seeds of which will not grow unless they have been digested by the animal. While frugivores and fruit-producing plant species are present worldwide, there is some evidence that tropical forests have more frugivore seed dispersers than the temperate zones.


Ecological significance

Frugivore seed dispersal is a common phenomenon in many ecosystems. However, it is not a highly specific type of plant–animal interaction. For example, a single species of frugivorous bird may disperse fruits from several species of plants, or a few species of bird may disperse seeds of one plant species. This lack of specialization could be because fruit availability varies by season and year, which tends to discourage frugivore animals from focusing on just one plant species. Furthermore, different seed dispersers tend to disperse seeds to different habitats, at different abundances, and distances, depending on their behavior and numbers.


Plant adaptations to attract dispersers

There are a number of fruit characteristics that seem to be adaptive characteristics to attract frugivores. Animal-dispersed fruits may advertise their palatability to animals with bright colors and attractive smells (mimetic fruits). Fruit pulp is generally rich in water and
carbohydrate A carbohydrate () is a biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a ...
s and low in
protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

protein
and
lipid In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanis ...
s. However, the exact nutritional composition of fruits varies widely. The seeds of animal-dispersed fruits are often adapted to survive digestion by frugivores. For example, seeds can become more permeable to water after passage through an animal's gut. This leads to higher
germination seedlings, three days after germination Germination is the process by which an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell t ...

germination
rates. Some
mistletoe Mistletoe is the common name for obligate{{wiktionary, obligate As an adjective, obligate means "by necessity" (antonym '' facultative'') and is used mainly in biology in phrases such as: * Obligate aerobe 300px, Aerobic and anaerobic bacte ...

mistletoe
seeds even germinate inside the disperser's intestine.


Frugivore adaptations for fruit consumption

Many seed-dispersing animals have specialized digestive systems to process fruits, which leave seeds intact. Some bird species have shorter intestines to rapidly pass seeds from fruits, while some frugivorous bat species have longer intestines. Some seed-dispersing frugivores have short gut-retention times, and others can alter intestinal enzyme composition when eating different types of fruits.


Plant mechanisms to delay or deter frugivory

Since plants invest considerable energy into fruit production, many have evolved to encourage mutualist frugivores to consume their fruit for seed dispersal. Some have also evolved mechanisms to decrease consumption of fruits when unripe and from non-seed-dispersing predators. Predators and parasites of fruit include seed predators, insects, and microbial frugivores. Plants have developed both chemical and physical
adaptation In , adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits s to their environment, enhancing their . Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a or adapti ...

adaptation
s: Physical deterrents: * Cryptic coloration (e.g. green fruits blend in with the plant leaves) *Unpalatable textures (e.g. thick skins made of anti-nutritive substances) *Resins and saps (e.g. prevent animals from swallowing) *Repellent substances, hard outer coats, spines, thorns Chemical deterrents: *Chemical deterrents in plants are called
secondary metabolite Secondary metabolites, also called specialised s, s, secondary products, or s, are s produced by , , or which are not directly involved in the normal , , or of the organism. Instead, they generally mediate ecological , which may produce a sel ...
s. Secondary metabolites are compounds produced by the plant that are not essential for the primary processes, such as growth and reproduction. Toxins might have evolved to prevent consumption by animals that disperse seeds into unsuitable habitats, to prevent too many fruits from being eaten per feeding bout by preventing too many seeds being deposited in one site, or to prevent digestion of the seeds in the gut of the animal. Secondary chemical defenses are divided into three categories:
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
-based,
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
-based
terpene Terpenes () are a class of natural products consisting of compounds with the formula (C5H8)n. Comprising more than 30,000 compounds, these unsaturated hydrocarbons are produced predominantly by plant Plants are mainly multicellular organ ...
s, and carbon-based . Examples of secondary chemical defenses in fruit: *
Capsaicin Capsaicin (8-methyl-''N''-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is an active component of chili pepper The chili pepper (also chile, chile pepper, chilli pepper, or chilli), from ' (), is the of plants from the ' which are members of the family, . ...

Capsaicin
is a carbon-based compound only found in plant genus ''
Capsicum ''Capsicum'' () is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viru ...

Capsicum
'' (chili and bell peppers). Capsaicin is responsible for the pungent, hot "flavor" of peppers and inhibits growth of microbes and invertebrates. *
Cyanogen Cyanogen is the chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together by chemica ...

Cyanogen
ic
glycoside In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms ...

glycoside
s are nitrogen-based compounds and are found in 130 plant families, but not necessarily in the fruit of all the plants. It is specifically found in the red berries of the genus ''
Ilex ''Ilex'' (), or holly, is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classificati ...

Ilex
'' (holly, an evergreen woody plant). It can inhibit
electron transport is the site of oxidative phosphorylation Oxidative phosphorylation (UK , US or electron transport-linked phosphorylation or terminal oxidation) is the metabolic pathway In biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of c ...
,
cellular respiration upright=2.5, Typical eukaryotic cell Cellular respiration is a set of metabolic Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities ...

cellular respiration
, induce
vomiting Vomiting (also known as emesis and throwing up) is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach The stomach is a muscular, Organ (anatomy), hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other anim ...

vomiting
,
diarrhea Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery defecation, bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration of ...
, and mild narcosis in animals. *
Emodin Emodin (6-methyl-1,3,8-trihydroxyanthraquinone) is a chemical compound, of the anthraquinone family, that can be isolated from rhubarb Rhubarb is the fleshy, edible stalks (petiole (botany), petioles) of species and hybrids (culinary rhubar ...

Emodin
is a carbon-based compound in plants like rhubarb. Emodin can be
cathartic In medicine, a cathartic is a substance that ''accelerates'' defecation frame, Anatomy of the anus and rectum Defecation is the final act of digestion, by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid, or liquid waste Waste (or wastes) are ...
or act as a
laxative Laxatives, purgatives, or aperients are substances that loosen human feces, stools and increase defecation, bowel movements. They are used to treat and prevent constipation. Laxatives vary as to how they work and the side effects they may have. C ...
in humans, kills dipteran larvae, inhibits growth of bacteria and fungi, and deters consumption by birds and mice. *
Starch Starch or amylum is a polymeric A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance ...
is a polysaccharide that is slowly converted to
fructose Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a ketonic simple sugar Monosaccharides (from Greek language, Greek ''wikt:μόνος, monos'': single, ''sacchar'': sugar), also called simple sugars, are the simplest form of sugar and the most basic units (monomers ...

fructose
as the fruit ripens.


Frugivorous animals

Birds are a main focus of frugivory research. An article by Bette A. Loiselle and John G. Blake, "Potential Consequences of Extinction of Frugivorous Birds for Shrubs of a Tropical Wet Forest", discusses the important role frugivorous birds have on ecosystems. The conclusions of their research indicate how the extinction of seed-dispersing species could negatively affect seed removal, seed viability, and plant establishment. The article highlights the importance that seed-dispersing birds have on the deposition of plant species. Examples of seed-dispersing birds are the
hornbill The hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Oviparity, laying of Eggshell, hard-shel ...

hornbill
, the
toucan Toucans (, ) are members of the Neotropical The Neotropical realm is one of the eight biogeographic realms constituting Earth's land surface. Physically, it includes the tropics, tropical Ecoregion#Terrestrial, terrestrial ecoregions of the A ...

toucan
, the aracari, the
cotinga The cotingas are a large family, Cotingidae, of suboscine passerine A passerine is any bird of the Order (biology), order Passeriformes (, Latin ''passer'' (“sparrow”) + ''formis'' (“-shaped”)), which includes more than half of all b ...
(ex.
Guianan cock-of-the-rock The Guianan cock-of-the-rock (''Rupicola rupicola'') is a species of cotinga, a passerine A passerine is any bird of the Order (biology), order Passeriformes (, Latin ''passer'' (“sparrow”) + ''formis'' (“-shaped”)), which includes m ...
), and some species of
parrot Parrots, also known as psittacines , are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class ...

parrot
s. Frugivores are common in the
temperate zone In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (40° to 60° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the yea ...

temperate zone
, but mostly found in the
tropics The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% i ...

tropics
. Many frugivorous birds feed mainly on fruits until nesting season, when they incorporate protein-rich insects into their diet. Facultatively-baccivorous birds may also eat bitter berries, such as juniper, in months when alternative foods are scarce. In North America, red mulberry (''
Morus rubra ''Morus rubra'', commonly known as the red mulberry, is a species of mulberry ''Morus'', a genus of flowering plants in the family Moraceae, consists of diverse species of deciduous trees commonly known as mulberries, growing wild and under c ...

Morus rubra
'') fruits are widely sought after by birds in spring and early summer; as many as 31 species of birds recorded visiting a fruiting tree in
Arkansas Arkansas () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, home to more than three million people as of 2018. Its name is from the Osage language, a Dhegihan languages, Dhegiha Siouan la ...

Arkansas
. Prior to 1980, most reports of avian frugivory were made in the tropics. From 1979–1981, a number of studies recognized the importance of fruits to fall temperate assemblages of
passerine A passerine () is any bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), bi ...
migrants. The earliest of these field studies were conducted in the fall of 1974 in
upstate New York Upstate New York is a geographic region consisting of the portion of New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
by Robert Rybczynski & Donald K. Riker and separately by John W. Baird in
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
, each documenting ingestion of fruits in stands of fruit-bearing shrubs by mixed species assemblages dominated by migrant
white-throated sparrow The white-throated sparrow (''Zonotrichia albicollis'') is a passerine A passerine is any bird of the Order (biology), order Passeriformes (, Latin ''passer'' (“sparrow”) + ''formis'' (“-shaped”)), which includes more than half of all ...
s.
Mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
s are considered frugivorous if the seed is dispersed and able to establish. One example of a mammalian frugivore is the
maned wolf The maned wolf (''Chrysocyon brachyurus'') is a large canine Canine may refer to: Zoology * dog-like mammals (i.e. members of the canid subfamily Caninae) ** ''Canis'', a genus including dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals ** Dog, the domestic do ...
, or ''Chrysocyon brachyurus'', which is found in South America. A study by José Carlos Motta-Junior and Karina Martins found that the maned wolf is probably an important seed disperser. The researchers found that 22.5–54.3% of the diet was fruit. 65% of the diet of
orangutan Orangutans are great apes The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relati ...

orangutan
s consists of fruit. Orangutans primarily eat fruit, along with young leaves, bark, flowers, honey, insects, and vines. One of their preferred foods is the fruit of the
durian The durian () is the edible fruit of several tree species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biolog ...

durian
tree, which tastes somewhat like sweet custard. Orangutans discard the skin, eat the flesh, and spit out the seeds. Other examples of mammalian frugivores include
fruit bat Megabats constitute the Family (biology), family Pteropodidae of the Order (biology), order Chiroptera (bats). They are also called fruit bats, Old World fruit bats, or—especially the genus, genera ''Acerodon'' and ''Pteropus''—Pteropus, ...
s and the
gray-bellied night monkey The gray-bellied night monkey (''Aotus lemurinus''), also called the grey-legged douroucouli
"Owl monkeys are frugivores and supplement their diet with flowers, insects, nectar, and leaves (Wright 1989; 1994). They prefer small, ripe fruit when available and in order to find these, they forage in large-crown trees (larger than ten meters 2.8 ft (Wright 1986). Seasonal availability of fruit varies across environments. Aotus species in tropical forests eat more fruit throughout the year because it is more readily available compared to the dry forests where fruit is limited in the dry season and owl monkeys are more dependent on leaves."


Conservation

Since
seed dispersal Seed dispersal is the movement, spread or transport of seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The ban ...
allows plant species to disperse to other areas, the loss of frugivores could change plant communities and lead to the local loss of particular plant species. Since frugivore seed dispersal is so important in the tropics, many researchers have studied the loss of frugivores and related it to changed plant population dynamics. Several studies have noted that even the loss of only large frugivores, such as monkeys, could have a negative effect, since they are responsible for certain types of long-distance seed dispersal that is not seen with other frugivore types, like birds. However, plant species whose seeds are dispersed by animals may be less vulnerable to fragmentation than other plant species. Frugivores can also benefit from the invasion of exotic fruit-producing species and can be vectors of exotic invasion by dispersing non-native seeds. Consequently, anthropogenic habitat loss and change may negatively affect some frugivore species but benefit others.


See also

* Consumer-resource systems *
Fruit flies Fruit fly may refer to: Organisms * Drosophilidae, a family of smaller flies, including: ** ''Drosophila'', the genus of small fruit flies and vinegar flies ** ''Drosophila melanogaster'' or common fruit fly, an important model organism in modern b ...

Fruit flies
*
Fruitarianism Fruitarianism () is a subset of dietary veganism, consisting of primarily fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means ...


References


Further reading

* {{Authority control Animals by eating behaviors Herbivory