The anomalous Kentucky coffeetree: megafaunal fruit sinking to extinction?

  title={The anomalous Kentucky coffeetree: megafaunal fruit sinking to extinction?},
  author={David N. Zaya and Henry F. Howe},
The Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus, Fabaceae) is an ecological paradox. A rare tree in nature in eastern and central North America, G. dioicus produces legumes that are only known to be dispersed by water, but appear similar to fruits consumed and dispersed by elephants and rhinoceros. One would expect the pods to be consumed by livestock, but the pulp and seeds are toxic to cattle and sheep. We examine the puzzle of G. dioicus dispersal in light of its other reproductive and life… 

Waiting for Gajah: an elephant mutualist's contingency plan for an endangered megafaunal disperser

D Dillenia indica's strategy for dispersal allows it to realize the benefits of dispersal by megaherbivores without becoming fully reliant on these less abundant species, and suggests D.indica will be able to persist even if its megafaunal disperser becomes extinct.

Seed dispersal of the Australian cycad Macrozamia miquelii (Zamiaceae): are cycads megafauna-dispersed "grove forming" plants?

It is argued that Macrozamia are "grove forming" plants that derive ecological benefit from existing as high-density, spatially discrete populations, the function of megafaunal dispersal adaptations being the infrequent dispersal of seeds en masse to establish new such groves in the landscape.

Asian Tapirs Are No Elephants When It Comes To Seed Dispersal

This study tracked the movements of threeTapir species at the Copenhagen Zoo using a network of 3D and 4D cameras and confirmed the presence of three Tapiridae species, including the Black-winged Pratincole and Black-shoulderedTapir.

In the elephant's seed shadow: the prospects of domestic bovids as replacement dispersers of three tropical Asian trees.

It is suggested that while domestic bovids can attenuate the effects of losing elephants as dispersers, they may not be able to prevent the decline of various mammal-dispersed fruiting species in the face of overhunting, habitat fragmentation, and climate change.

Combining paleo-data and modern exclosure experiments to assess the impact of megafauna extinctions on woody vegetation

This review combines paleo- data with information from modern exclosure experiments to assess the impact of large herbivores (and their disappearance) on woody species, landscape structure, and ecosystem functions, and proposes a conceptual framework that describes the impact that herbivore suppression of woody plants is strongest where Herbivore diversity is high.

Relative Seed and Fruit Toxicity of the Australian Cycads Macrozamia miquelii and Cycas ophiolitica: Further Evidence for a Megafaunal Seed Dispersal Syndrome in Cycads, and Its Possible Antiquity

Results suggest cycads are adapted for dispersal fauna capable of swallowing the large, heavy propagules whole, digesting the non-toxic sarcotesta flesh internally, and then voiding the toxic seed intact.

Genetic Characterization of Invasion and Hybridization: A Bittersweet (Celastrus spp.) Story

Human commerce, changing biogeochemical cycles, and especially reproductive interference likely played a role in the decline of the native vine and spread of the invasive congener in the past, and their influence will likely increase in the future.

Ecological and evolutionary legacy of megafauna extinctions

It is argued that the ongoing extinction of the extant megafauna in the Anthropocene will catalyse another wave of co‐extinction events due to the enormous diversity of key ecological interactions and functional roles provided by the megAFauna.

Megafauna declines and extinctions over the past 40,000 years in eastern monsoonal China: causes, consequences and implications

Megafauna species are key to a variety of ecosystems. Closely associated with the global spread of Homo sapiens out of Africa since the Late Pleistocene, megafauna declines and extinctions have had

A Review of Human-Elephant Ecological Relations in the Malay Peninsula: Adaptations for Coexistence

Understanding the relationship between humans and elephants is of particular interest for reducing conflict and encouraging coexistence. This paper reviews the ecological relationship between humans



Seed Dispersal Anachronisms: Rethinking the Fruits Extinct Megafauna Ate

Megafaunal fruits allow plants to circumvent the trade-off between seed size and dispersal by relying on frugivores able to disperse enormous seed loads over long-distances and could be extended to other plant species dispersed by large vertebrates in present-day, defaunated communities.

Gomphothere Fruits: A Critique

  • H. Howe
  • Environmental Science
    The American Naturalist
  • 1985
The hypothesis that giant Pleistocene mammals shaped reproductive traits of many tropical plants could help explain anomalous fruits which appear adapted for animal consumption, but which lack


Heavy seed loads in dung, low germination from uningested fruits, and rapid growth of Trewia seedlings on grassland latrines demonstrate the role of rhinoceros in dispersal and recruitment of woody species in riverine grasslands and the significance of megafaunal dispersal.

Neotropical Anachronisms: The Fruits the Gomphotheres Ate

Plant distributions in neotropical forest and grassland mixes that are moderately and patchily browsed by free-ranging livestock may be more like those before megafaunal extinction than were those present at the time of Spanish conquest.

The need to be eaten: Balanites wilsoniana with and without elephant seed-dispersal

  • E. Cochrane
  • Environmental Science
    Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • 2003
This study demonstrates that elephant seed-dispersal is vital for Balanites wilsoniana, a forest canopy tree with no other effective dispersers, and provides strong evidence that B. wiloniana is dependent on elephants for its long-term persistence.

Seed Dispersal by Elephants in Semiarid Woodland Habitats of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe1

THE MAJORITY (60%) OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN TREES AND SHRUBS produce animal-dispersed seeds, and animaldispersal mechanisms may be even more prevalent within forest and woodland landscapes of central and

Role of dispersal in the invasion of an exotic tree in an East African submontane forest

Expansive Maesopsis invasion in the East Usambaras was likely enhanced in both rapidity and scale by the presence of an extremely effective dispersal agent, the silvery-cheeked hornbill.

The reciprocal interaction of angiosperm evolution and tetrapod herbivory

Megaherbivores influence trophic guilds structure in African ungulate communities

It is shown that the different trophic guilds within African ungulate communities react differently to environmental factors (rain and soil), and that megaherbivores, and particularly elephants, appear to compete with mesomixed feeders and mesobrowsers.

Fruit characters as a basis of fruit choice and seed dispersal in a tropical forest vertebrate community

The analyses of dispersal syndromes show that fruit species partitioning occurs more between mammal taxa than between mammals and birds, and suggest how fruit characters could have evolved under consumer pressure as a result of consumer roles as dispersers or seed predators.