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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Distribution and Dispersal of the South Pacifc Tree, Fagraea Berteriana (Loganiaceae)


Tahitian legend states Fagraea berteriana is a gift of repentance from the god, Tane. The scientific community knows little more about this tree than its inter-island distribution in the South Pacific. I surveyed the island of Moorea to map an intra-island distribution of F. berteriana and quantify environmental characteristics surrounding the tree’s growth. I tested dispersal hypotheses by collecting bird observations and conducting seed germination experiments that included a numer of seed scarification treatments. The tree occurred in densities ranging from 44 to 244 trees/hectare and at elevations spanning from approximately 300 to 900 m. Density differed with significance between two sites, Tohiea and the Cross Island Trail. Tree density increased with greater elevations and more southerly aspects. Ninety-five percent of the trees sampled grew on slopes greater than 80%. There was no correlation between tree density and slope or between density and tree height. Tree density did not significantly differ between three substrate types: rock, rocky soil, and soil. I observed Silvereyes and Red-vented bulbuls consuming F. berteriana fruits and germination from seeds, although at a less than 1% rate. The germination success and bird observations served as a preliminary investigation of the dispersal of F. berteriana and fostered ideas concerning worthwhile future directions of study.

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