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Greta's Garbo: stranded seeds and fruits from Greta Beach, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean

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AimTo describe the species composition of stranded seeds and fruits drifted by ocean currents to Christmas Island, Indian Ocean.

LocationChristmas Island, Indian Ocean.

MethodsFrequent visual searches along the strand line of the island's few accessible beaches over a 4-year period 1988–92, with most effort concentrated on Greta Beach, on the east coast.

ResultsThe collection contained not fewer than sixty-three species in forty-nine genera and twenty-nine families. Leguminous seeds were by far the most common (especially Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb., Dioclea spp., Entada spp., Erythrina spp. and Mucunagigantea (Willd.) DC.), but Calophyllum inophyllum L., Guettarda speciosa L., Hernandia ovigera L., Heritiera littoralis Aiton and Terminalia catappa L. were also common.

Main conclusionsOnly about one-third of species recorded in the drift flora are native to the island, and most disseminules stranded on the island are probably not locally derived. The most likely distant sources of drift disseminules are probably the southern Indonesian islands and Sumatra, with most disseminules probably arriving via the Timor and Arafura Seas between Indonesia and Australia. However, some disseminules may originate from as far east as the Moluccas and the east coast of Kalimantan. The majority of species recorded in the drift flora are not native to the island, and yet some of these were encountered frequently and displayed a high degree of viability on arrival (e.g. Dioclea hexandra (Ralph) Mabb., Erythrina fusca Loureiro and Mucuna gigantea (Willd.) DC.). Several possible reasons for the failure of many drift species to establish on the island are discussed.

Keywords: Christmas Island; Indian Ocean; drift disseminules; oceanic island; seed dispersal

Document Type: Original Article


Publication date: September 1, 1999


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