Seed Dispersal

theory and its application in a changing world

The title of this book is misleading and will disappoint those who choose it without first browsing the contents. There are very few references to dispersal by wind, attachment to animals or carried on flowing water. Even the references to ‘a changing world’ need to be inferred as they are not dwelt upon directly. What this weighty book consists of are a series of papers presented at the ‘Fourth International Symposium/Workshop on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal’. It is not an overview of a subject area, that a general readership might have hoped for.
So what is there to attract those who are not specialist frugivore researchers? While the contributors make no concessions for non-specialists, for those prepared to put the effort in, there is a wealth of information on the complex biological systems related to seed dispersal and successful germination. This includes ideas on the sensitivities of plant-frugivore networes, the merits of seed size and palatability in relation to frugivores, granivores, pathogens and micorrhiza, and the metabolic costs to the parent plant. Surprisingly, there is no reference to the value (or otherwise) of genetic variability of the plant species for seed dispersal and establishment. However, in other respects the numerous factors to be taken into account provide a good reminder of the complexity of biological systems.

To summarise, this is a book for specialist researchers that will also be of interest to ecologists, and those within the broad church of biological sciences, who are prepared for a challenging read.

I A Martin, Nov 2007