Is the European red fox a vector of the invasive basket asparagus (Asparagus aethiopicus) in eastern Australia?
Basket asparagus (Asparagus aethiopicus) has become a naturalised invasive plant in some coastal areas of Australia since its introduction in the late 19th century. Its spread through garden waste dumping and avian seed dispersal has been well documented and both are considered to be the primary means of dispersal. While a small number of avian vectors have been identified, no Australian studies have investigated the potential of mammals to disperse basket asparagus seeds. We collected basket asparagus seeds from fox (Vulpes vulpes) scats collected in the field, confirmed the viability of these seeds in germination trials, and further documented the germination of basket asparagus seeds from an undisturbed fox scat in situ. These results demonstrate that foxes consume and disperse basket asparagus seeds, and that these seeds are viable and germinate under field conditions. Foxes not only use basket asparagus stands as harbour, but can also facilitate the plant's dispersal in coastal ecosystems.