Co-evolutionary dynamics between fruits and frugivores: insights from two keystone tropical plant families (Arecaceae and Annonaceae)
The interaction between fruits and frugivores (i.e. fruit-eating and seed-dispersing animals) is prominent in tropical rainforests. Seeds can be moved across long distances, while frugivores obtain important nutrients. Both fruits and frugivores have evolved adaptive traits to facilitate their interactions, which may explain the evolution of plant ‘trait syndromes’ in relation to particular frugivore guilds (e.g., birds, mammals), or the matching between frugivore and plant traits, such as body size / fruit size and colour vision / fruit colour. I will discuss the consequences of trait evolution for the co-evolutionary dynamics between fruits and frugivores, particularly focusing on the role of seed dispersal in (1) the disjunct tropical distribution of rainforest lineages, and (2) co-diversification between plant lineages with conspicuous (reddish) fruit colours and frugivore lineages with trichromatic vision (those that can distinguish red from green). To illustrate this, I will use examples from two keystone tropical plant families: palms (Arecaceae) and custard apples (Annonaceae).