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Plants actually want seed predators like squirrels and jays to hoard their seeds in giant food stores

Saturday, March 08, 2014 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: plants, seed predators, food stores

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(NaturalNews) Typically, we assume that plants live in an antagonistic relationship with seed predators, but, in fact, some plants appear to encourage such predators, especially those that engage in food hoarding behavior. After all, if not every seed in a cache gets eaten, whether because there was too much food or because the animal forgot about a given food store or was eaten by a predator, the seeds will germinate far from the parent tree (seed dispersal).

In fact, because seed caches are so well hidden, their seeds may end up better protected than seeds left lying on the ground and have higher germination rates.

Some plants appear to have evolved mechanisms to encourage this dynamic, including deliberately producing more nutritious seeds that are attractive to hoarders. Some trees, like oaks, all produce seeds during one brief window, producing such a fleeting overabundance of food that seed predators are forced to make stockpiles.

Plants can also encourage animals to hoard by making their nuts difficult to crack or filling them with toxic chemicals that dissipate over time. Finally, some plants appear to have evolved seeds without strong smells to increase the chance that, if buried, they will be lost.






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