Maliau rotting fruit (proposal)

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Rotting fruit attracts a litany of consumers

Colonization Ecology of Rotting Fruit Resources

Jessica Lavash, Shana Caro, and Kristina Prus



In the rain forest, fruit resources are distributed in patches due to a general lack of fruiting seasonality. Subsequently, terrestrial frugivorous insects must constantly forage for food sources (fallen fruits) in the forest. Patch size (abundance of decomposing fruits in one area) is variable and so it is possible that decomposers selectively forage for larger resources that would provide more food, according to optimal foraging theory. Smaller patches of food could also be less visited since they would not be as easily detected as the larger fruit falls. This system of frugivorous organisms foraging for decaying food provides an insight into community dynamics dependent on limiting resources in the forest.


  • How does patch size influence the process of colonization and community assembly at new fruit resource sites?


We believe that larger resources will have the fastest colonization with the greatest biodiversity, because they will be easier to detect and thus attract fruigivores and decomposers more readily.


  • We will create 'apple ganoosh' consisting of mashed up rotting apple and eggplant mixed together
  • We will have three patch sizes: small (5g of apple ganoosh), medium (10g of apple ganoosh), and large (20g of apple ganoosh) randomly distributed in many sites in a uniform environment.
  • We will place 4 sets of small, medium, and large patches separated by 5m at 4 different transects.
  • We will observe the patches twice a day, in the morning and afternoon
  • We will determine community composition at the patches by counting species and determining their abundance based percent cover, number of individuals, and percent of community.
  • We will take two random samples from each size type per day to analyze under a microscope to identify any burrowing species or microscopic organisms.


  • We will analyze our data using t-tests and general linear models.