Responses of pre-dispersal seed predators to sequential flowering of Dipterocarps in Malaysia
Many species of Dipterocarpaceae and other plant families reproduce synchronously at irregular, multi‐year intervals in Southeast Asian forests. These community‐wide general flowering events are thought to facilitate seed survival through satiation of generalist seed predators. During a general flowering event, closely related Shorea species (Dipterocarpaceae) stagger their flowering times by several weeks, which may minimize cross pollination and interspecific competition for pollinators. Generalist, pre‐dispersal seed predators might also track flowering hosts and influence predator satiation. We addressed the question of whether pre‐dispersal seed predation differed between early and late flowering Shorea species by monitoring flowering, fruiting and seed predation intensity over two general flowering events at the Pasoh Research Forest, Malaysia. Pre‐dispersal insect seed predators killed up to 63 percent of developing seeds, with Nanophyes shoreae, a weevil that feeds on immature seeds being the most important predator for all Shorea species. This weevil caused significantly greater pre‐dispersal seed predation in earlier flowering species. Long larval development time precluded oviposition by adults that emerged from the earliest flowering Shorea on the final flowering Shorea. In contrast, larvae of weevils that feed on mature seeds before seed dispersal (Alcidodes spp.), appeared in seeds of all Shorea species almost simultaneously. We conclude that general flowering events have the potential to satiate post‐dispersal seed predators and pre‐dispersal seed predators of mature fruit, but are less effective at satiating pre‐dispersal predators of immature fruit attacking early flowering species.