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Fruit-eating fish does far-flung forestry

Species’ seed-dispersal skills go the distance

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1:08pm, March 23, 2011

In the Amazon, Johnny Appleseed may be a fish.

When rivers in the Amazon Basin flood into surrounding forests and savannas, a fruit-eating fish called a tambaqui proves itself a champion at excreting seeds in distant new homes, says Jill T. Anderson of Duke University in Durham, N.C. In extreme cases, seeds hitchhiking with the fish can land almost 5.5 kilometers from the mother tree.

Those distances put the tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum) into the ranks of elephants and big birds for long-distance planting, Anderson and her colleagues report in an upcoming Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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