Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

All Creatures Great and Small

Photo: Si-Chong Chen

While it’s true that large animals feed on some large seeds from fleshy fruits, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that large animals, especially ungulates such as rhinoceros, zebras, peccaries, deer and buffalos, also unintentionally vacuum up huge amounts of small, inconspicuous seeds as they browse on short grassy vegetation. These interactions are the primary factor that drives the negative relationship between animal body mass and ingested seed size across all vertebrates. Photo: Si-Chong Chen

By Si-Chong Chen & Angela Moles

Many large animals are rare or under threat, so the discovery that they ingest and disperse both large and small seeds has widespread ecological consequences.

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