Seabirds as adhesive seed dispersers of alien and native plants in the oceanic Ogasawara Islands, Japan

Yukiko Aoyama, Kazuto Kawakami, Satoshi Chiba

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that the dispersal of plant seeds to oceanic islands is largely attributable to birds. However, few studies have assessed the role of adhesive dispersal by birds even though this mechanism has long been recognized as a major vector of seed transport. Some data point to the possibility that adhesive transport by seabirds transfers alien plant seeds in island ecosystems. In the present study, we examined the seed-dispersing ability of seabirds among islands in the oceanic Ogasawara Islands, Japan. We used capture surveys to examine the frequency of seeds adhering to seabirds and tested the salt tolerances of the seeds. The distributions of the plant species were examined and the relationships between plant and seabird distributions were analyzed using generalized linear models. Seeds of nine plant species, including aliens, were detected on 16-32 % of captured seabirds. Seeds included those generally considered to be dispersed by wind or internally transported by birds in their guts. Seeds exposed to NaCl solution isotonic with seawater for up to 8 h suffered little or no loss of viability. Analyses of plant distributions demonstrated positive relationships between the distributions of some plants and seabirds. These results show that seabirds effectively disperse seeds of both native and introduced plant species. This is the first study to comprehensively assess adhesive seed dispersal by seabirds; it provides essential information on long-distance dispersal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2787-2801
Number of pages15
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept


  • Alien species
  • Epizoochory
  • Island flora
  • Long-distance dispersal
  • Oceanic islands
  • Seabirds


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