A meta-analysis of the effects of frugivory (endozoochory) on seed germination: role of seed size and kind of dormancy

Elias Soltani, Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin, Siavash Heshmati, Marieh S. Mirfazeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Heretofore, no study has determined how germination of ingested seeds is affected by the kind (class) of dormancy nor by seed dormancy x seed size interaction. Thus, we aimed to determine the effects of seed size, kind of dormancy and their interaction on germination of defecated seeds using a meta-analysis. We collected data for 366 plant species in 97 plant families from 76 publications. In general, gut passage significantly increased germination percentage of defecated seeds by 5% compared with that of control seeds. Germination percentages of non-dormant, physiologically dormant, and morphologically/morphophysiologically dormant seeds (all water-permeable) significantly decreased after gut passage by 40, 18, and 14%, respectively, compared with control seeds (non-gut-passed). Changes in germination percentage of seeds with physical dormancy (water-impermeable) were positive, and gut passage increased germination by 69% compared with control seeds. Germination of small seeds decreased 8% after gut passage, whereas germination of both medium and large seeds increased by 18%. However, changes in germination percentage differed between categories of seed size in each class of dormancy. In physically dormant seeds, germination of all seed sizes improved after gut passage, and the magnitude of increase was higher for large than for medium and small seeds. Thus, gut passage increased germination of medium-size water-permeable seeds (physiologically dormant and morphologically/morphophysiologically dormant) more than it did for large and small seeds. However, gut-passage decreased or did not change the germination percentage of non-dormant seeds. Seed size and kind of dormancy should be included in studies on the effect of gut passage on germination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1283-1294
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Gut passage
  • Odds ratio
  • Scarification
  • Seed coat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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