Seed-Dispersing Animals are Way Cool because . . .

By moving seeds around, animals help plants succeed in life. What does success mean for a plant? It means having as many offspring as possible. Animals often get a reward for their service in the form of food. In many cases, the food is a fleshy part of the fruit that contains the seed, but the seed itself is generally not harmed by the animal. Sometimes, as payment to the animal, the plant sacrifices some of its seeds, which may even become “zombie” seeds. Mammals and birds are the “star” seed movers, but some reptiles, fish and ants can be very important seed dispersers too.

Seed dispersal by animals occurs almost everywhere, but this mutualism between plants and animals is most striking in tropical rainforests. Join Ellen Andresen, a visiting professor from Mexico on sabbatical at UBC, to find out why plants need to disperse their seeds to succeed, and how animals help them achieve this goal.

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