Phenology, seed dispersal, and colonization in Muntingia calabura, a neotropical pioneer tree.

T. H. Fleming, C. F. Williams, F. J. Bonaccorso, L. H. Herbst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Muntingia calabura (Eleocarpaceae) is widespread in Costa Rican dry tropical forest. Individuals grow rapidly, flower at <2yr age, and produce juicy red fruits containing thousands of tiny seeds that are eaten by a variety of birds, bats and monkeys. Although most individuals produce some flowers and fruit year-round, peak flowering occurs in the late dry season (April-May), and peak fruit availability occurs early in the wet season (May-June). Bats and parakeets are the major seed dispersers, and they concentrate their attention on this species at its fruit peak when few alternative fruits are available. Germinable M. calabura seeds accumulate in the forest soil in relatively high density in areas of high frugivore activity. M. calabura can quickly invade large disturbed areas with a high density of seedlings. Adult densities decline from thousands of individuals/ha to a few individuals/ha in a relatively few years. Clumps of M. calabura trees are replaced by later successional species in <30yr. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-391
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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