Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Snails surviving being eaten by birds

Japanese scientists have found that small land snails of the species Tomatellides boeningi can survive being eaten by birds. They fed live snails to Japanese white-eyes and a brown-eared bulbul, and found that about 15% of the snails remained alive after passing through the birds' guts.

Just as birds are important dispersers of plant seeds, it appears that they can contribute to the dispersal of small animals too.

Wild populations of T. boeningi on Hahajima Island in the W Pacific show genetic heterogeneity within populations and no evidence of isolation, and there is a statistically-significant positive correlation between genetic variation and the density of Japanese white-eyes, lending support to the idea of bird-borne dispersal.


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