Our friends the seed dispersers

Botany One has been running an entertaining little series from Nigel Chaffey on how plants get about, as seeds and as the gametes that produce seeds. In the third and final part, we get to plants that could reasonably be considered of interest here, to whit cacao and useful forest trees. It turns out that chimpanzees in West Africa are not above nicking a few pods from cacao trees and spreading the seeds an average of 407 m from the plantations. I like the ideas that this illuminates the thorny question of who “owns” a crop.

Sticking with West African trees, it seems that gorilla and chimpanzee dung offers “a cost effective and non-invasive way to restore native forested habitats”. Of course, if the gorillas and chimpanzees are themselves threatened and don’t travel widely, that’s not going to help forests further afield. Chaffey suggests collecting their dung and distributing these auto-fertilising, self-selecting seed packages directly over the area to be reforested.

I wonder what the forest genetic resources people would make of that?

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