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Scatter-hoarding by musky rat-kangaroos, Hypsiprymnodon moschatus, a tropical rain-forest marsupial from Australia: implications for seed dispersal

  • Andrew J. Dennis (a1) (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 24 October 2003

Tropical forests around the world contain animals that scatter-hoard fruits and seeds but few are known in Australian tropical forests. This study used both direct observation and spool-and-line tracking of simulated fruits to demonstrate that Australia's smallest kangaroos disperse large numbers of rain-forest fruits and seeds. They did so in two ways, either by scatter-hoarding or by carrying them away from the source to devour the flesh before dropping the seed on to the litter surface. The fruits used included a range of fruit types but particularly species with large fleshy fruit. Caches occurred as a single fruit pressed into the soil and covered with litter a mean distance of 17 m (±2.7 SE) and up to 68 m from the source. Musky rat-kangaroos handled up to 2700 fruits ha-1 mo-1 and they dispersed up to 900 fruits ha-1 mo-1 and cached up to 690 fruits ha-1 mo-1. This behaviour is a significant example of convergent evolution, which reflects similar behaviour found in agoutis, acouchies and squirrels on other continents.

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Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
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