Mistletoe as a keystone resource

Subject: Mistletoe as a keystone resource
From: Laurie & Leanne Knight <>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2001 21:12:35 +1000
For those of you with a scientific bent, I have received a copy of the
following paper from the author, which I can email on request - I have
appended the abstract ... 

Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 2001. 32:219-49


David M.Watson

The Johnstone Centre and Environmental Studies Unit, Charles Sturt
University, Bathurst New South Wales 2795, Australia; e-mail:

Key Words Loranthaceae, Viscaceae, frugivore, plant-animal interactions


Mistletoes are a diverse group of parasitic plants with a worldwide
distribution. The hemiparasitic growth form is critical to understanding
their biology, buffering variation in resource availability that
constrains the distribution and growth of most plants. This is
manifested in many aspects of mistletoe life history, including extended
phenologies, abundant and high-quality fruits and nectar, and few
chemical or structural defenses. Most mistletoe species rely on animals
for both pollination and fruit dispersal, and this leads to a broad
range of mistletoe-animal interactions.

In this review, I summarize research on mistletoe biology and synthesize
results from studies of mistletoe-animal interactions. I consolidate
records of mistletoe-vertebrate interactions, incorporating species from
97 vertebrate families recorded as consuming mistletoe and from 50 using
mistletoe as nesting sites. There is widespread support for regarding
mistletoe as a keystone resource, and all quantitative data are
consistent with mistletoe functioning as a determinant of alpha
diversity. Manipulative experiments are highlighted as a key priority,
and six explicit predictions are provided to guide future experimental
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