Berries provide the means for some plants to disperse their seeds over longer distances than would otherwise be possible, without the help of some other creature. The plants often offer nutritious fleshy fruits to attract birds to take the seeds, hidden inside, and ingest them. The seeds have tough external coats that protect them from the digestive systems of birds, allowing them to be deposited elsewhere once they have passed through the bird’s gut.
This apparently mutualistic arrangement (birds acting as dispersers and plants devoting resources to offering energetic rewards) is complicated by the fact that some birds eat the pulp and discard the seed (pulp-predators) or eat and digest the seed (seed-predators). Regardless of such considerations, there is plenty of evidence in the scientific literature to highlight that some plants are particularly valuable to birds as a source of berries or seeds.
What makes a berry a 'berry' and what is a 'drupe'? Find out with our guide to berries and other fruits.
View our list of berry-producing plants that may be used by birds.
What effect might annual releases of non-native gamebirds be having on native biodiversity?
Henrietta Pringle reveals the work behind a recent paper on gamebirds and predation
Climate change in a warming world
BTO science contributes to our understanding of future scenarios, and informing policies and conservation management strategies to help species adapt.