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Epizoochory, Algae and the Australian Eastern Long-necked Turtle Chelodina longicollis (Shaw) - PDF

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The role of animals in seed dispersal is widely acknowledged and turtles have been reported to act as vectors. All reports of turtles dispersing seeds to date have been via endozoochrony. The first evidence of turtles being epizoochronic dispersers of seeds via their carapacial algal mat is reported here. Chelodina longicollis is widespread and abundant throughout most of the eastern fringe of mainland Australia and throughout the largest inland river system, the Murray Darling Basin. They are the most terrestrially mobile of the Australian freshwater turtles and they are the most indiscriminate in habitat choice, inhabiting the entire range of water bodies from rivers to small ephemeral wetlands. Our results showed that turtles with even moderate carapacial algae can act as vectors in the dispersal of seeds associated with wetlands. However, as C. longicollis is unlikely to be unique among the freshwater turtles in this regard, we conclude that epizoochory is likely to occur in other turtle species. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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