U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

February 2002


Many bird species eat fruits and, likewise, many plant species are dependent on birds for the dispersal of seeds. Through cultivation and selective breeding, attributes of wild fruit have been changed to make fruit more palatable to humans. For example, cultivated species bear fruits that are often thinner-skinned. are more succulent, have fewer seeds and are easier to pick than non-cultivated species. These same changes, however, have also increased the attractiveness of fruit to avian consumers. Ecological relationships that have developed across evolutionary time between wild plants and frugivores become emphasized by the introduction of cultivated fruits that have been carefully bred, unknowingly and unintentionally, with bird-friendly traits.