Seed dispersal

Seed dispersal

Animal-mediated seed dispersal is a focal area of interest in the lab. Current efforts center on ants and the seeds they disperse. Myrmecochory, or dispersal of elaiosome-bearing seeds by ants, is a common phenomenon in numerous forest understory herbs in North America. The process, which involves the movement of seeds to ant nests, where elaiosomes are fed to developing ant larvae, is often cast in a mutualistic context, where seeds are therein protected from predation pressure and set in a nutrient-enriched spot conducive to enhanced establishment. The extent of the putative mutualism, and a clarification on the importance of ants as dispersers are areas of continued interest.