Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) granivory and its role in seed dispersal in semiarid forest of central Argentina
COSTAN, A.S. and SARASOLA, J.H. 2017. Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) granivory and its role in seed dispersal in semiarid forest of central Argentina. Ornitología Neotropical 28:43-50.
Abstract: The Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) is one of the most abundant granivorous birds in the Neotropical region, and has been declared as a pest in several regions of southern South America. Most studies of this dove’s diet have been conducted in agricultural lands in order to evaluate crop damage and dove preferences for particular crop seeds. More recently, it has been argued that Eared Doves may also play a role as seed dispersers, since often seeds contained in crops are spilled when doves are killed by predators. Here, we studied the food habits of the Eared Dove in xerophytic semiarid forests of central Argentina and the germination potential of seeds contained in crops. Based on crop contents, using an emetic formula and greenhouse germination experiments, we aimed to determine the diet of the Eared Dove and to evaluate the potential role of doves as seed predators and dispersers. Most of the birds captured (70%, n = 131) regurgitated crop contents. Crops contained almost exclusively seeds of six cultivated and 13 non‐cultivated plant species, with a mean (±SD) of 207 ± 286 seeds/crop. Doves consumed seeds in asynchrony with the plant fruiting or crop sowing cycle for both non‐cultivated and cultivated species, respectively, suggesting that doves forage not only directly from plants but also from crop‐seed storage facilities, spilled grain, and the seed bank. We selected some of the most representative plant species obtained from dove crops to carry out germination experiments. While all species showed some level of germination potential, seeds from cultivated plant species (n = 5) showed a higher mean germination potential (56.8%) than those from non‐cultivated species (23.1%, n = 3). Our results confirm the role of the Eared Dove as seed predator but also highlight its potential role as seed disperser following predation.
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