OOS 16 - Bearing Fruit: Towards Synthesis of Major Themes in the Ecology of Fruit

Wednesday, August 10, 2016: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
315, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Alex W. Bajcz, University of Maine
Alex W. Bajcz, University of Maine
In this session, we ask the simple question: “What about fruits?” Many ecological studies treat fruits either as “flowers that were” or “seedlings that will be.” However, fruits are much more than the products of pollination or vessels for seeds. They are innovations that helped angiosperms conquer the Earth. They are pivotal food resources for taxa throughout the tree of life. They are morphological and chemical marvels, whose forms have been carefully shaped by millions of years of evolution. They are drivers of dispersal, invasion, population structure, and competition. They represent the climax of (a)sexual reproduction in plants and are thus central to plant fitness. Simply put, fruits touch on nearly every sub-discipline of ecology. And yet, fruits themselves are rarely the focus of ecological inquiry, often being used merely as proxies for some other variable (fitness, pollination success, etc.) of interest. As a result, many fundamental questions about fruits and their ecological roles remain largely unanswered. Why is it “worthwhile” for plants to make fruits? What makes for a “successful” fruit? How does the chemical composition of fruits influence their ecology? How do fruit traits evolve? What are the limits to fruit production? Do fruits facilitate invasion? Comprehensive attempts to synthesize our disparate knowledge about fruits with the goal of producing a unified body of theory are sadly lacking. However, a renaissance in fruit research may be on the horizon. As climatic zones shift, understanding how fruit traits influence dispersal becomes key to predicting the persistence of plant species. As the human population grows, so too does our need to produce more fruit for human consumption without losing genetic diversity, reducing a fruit’s nutritional value, or degrading the environment. As our world’s flora homogenizes, understanding the role of fruits as invasion mediators becomes paramount to our counter-offensive. This session intends to bring together a suite of researchers who have made studying fruit a core part of their research, each offering a unique perspective and approach. Throughout the session, the speakers will be challenged to put their research into a larger, more comprehensive context centered on the questions: How have fruits evolved and what ecological roles do they play in addition to facilitating plant reproduction? Additionally, speakers are encouraged to offer ways in which further research into fruit ecology can be stimulated.
8:00 AM
 Seed dispersal by temperate ungulates: Revisiting "foliage is the fruit"
Christophe Baltzinger, Irstea (National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture); Aurélie Albert-Daviaud, Irstea (National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture); Mélanie Picard, Irstea (National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture); Anders Mårell, Irstea (National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture)
8:40 AM Cancelled
 Anti-apostatic frugivory and the maintenance of plant diversity
Tomás A. Carlo, The Pennsylvania State University
9:00 AM
 Trait evolution within frugivory networks
Cang Hui, Stellenbosch University
9:40 AM
9:50 AM
 How do bats select fruits and why does it matter?
Marco Mello, Federal University of Minas Gerais
10:10 AM
 Fleshy fruits in Neotropical wetlands: The influence of seed dispersal by fish on the evolution of fruit traits
Sandra Bibiana Correa, University of Georgia; Catia Nunes da Cunha, Institute of BioSciences, Federal University of MatoGrosso; Jerry Penha, Federal University of MatoGrosso; Jill T. Anderson, University of Georgia
10:30 AM
 Fruit pulp rewards for dispersers: Content, packaging, and relation to seed size
Mercedes S. Foster, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
10:50 AM
 Consequences of forest disturbance for fruit functional traits in eastern Amazonia
Joseph E. Hawes, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi; Jos Barlow, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi; Erika Berenguer, Lancaster University; Amanda Cardoso, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi; Joice Ferreira, Embrapa Amazônia Oriental; Toby A. Gardner, Stockholm Environment Institute; Ima C. G. Viera, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi