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Faecal mimicry by seeds ensures dispersal by dung beetles

Nature Plants volume 1, Article number: 15141 (2015) | Download Citation


The large brown, round, strongly scented seeds of Ceratocaryum argenteum (Restionaceae) emit many volatiles found to be present in herbivore dung. These seeds attract dung beetles that roll and bury them. As the seeds are hard and offer no reward to the dung beetles, this is a remarkable example of deception in plant seed dispersal.

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We thank T. Hoekstra of CapeNature for permission to work in Potberg and H.P. Linder, W.J. Bond, B. Anderson, S.-L. Steenhuisen, N. Hobbhahn, M. Cramer and J. Hoffman for comments on the manuscript. P. Muller provided assistance with photographs and SEM. We thank the NRF for funding.

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  1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, P bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa

    • Jeremy J. Midgley
    • , Joseph D. M. White
    •  & Gary N. Bronner
  2. School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, PBagX01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzurg 3209, South Africa

    • Steven D. Johnson


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J.J.M. initiated the study and together with J.D.M.W. and G.N.B. did the field work. S.D.J. did the scent and statistical analysis. All four contributed to manuscript writing.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Jeremy J. Midgley.

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