Jackals do play a role in seed dispersal

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Thursday, 1st February 2024

The black-backed jackal as a seed disperser

Favaretto, B. S., Tambling, C. J., & Kerley, G. I.

Journal of Arid Environments, 2024

Black-backed jackal Lupulella mesomelas consume fruits and their seeds, yet their seed dispersing ability is poorly understood. We extracted, identified and counted seeds from 150 jackal scat samples, and quantified the viability and germination capacity of ingested seeds, using tetrazolium viability tests and germination trials. We recovered 336 seeds of Grewia occidentalis, 1025 seeds of Pappea capensis, 362 seeds of Diospyros lycioides, 296 seeds of Vachellia karroo and 2 seeds of an unknown species from the scats. Seed viability and germination of three species tested (G. occidentalis, P. capensis and D. lycioides) were significantly lower than uningested seeds, but many seeds did survive ingestion by jackal and germinated successfully. Our study confirms that jackal do play a role in endozoochory and provides the first evidence of reduced germination of these dispersed seeds, broadening our understanding of the ecological role of this heavily persecuted mesopredator.

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