3
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Most Indian tropical fruit trees produce fruits in April-May. The best possible explanation for this is

  1. optimum water availability for fruit production.
  2. the heat allows quicker ripening of fruit.
  3. animals have no other source of food in summer.
  4. the impending monsoon provides optimum conditions for propagation

This was asked in a competitive examination, and being a mathematician with interest in plants, this caught my attention. Please note that this was asked in aptitude section, and I feel it more aptly belongs this SE, correct me if I am wrong.

My thoughts:

  1. April-May is summer in (tropical) India (where I live, Kerala) hence optimum water availability looks out of option.

  2. Considering fruit production being a part of process of propagation, though this is a favourable factor, I doubt if it is a determining factor

  3. Animals help disperse the fruits, and less availability of food may be a favouring factor attracting animals to fruits, it is not a determining factor.

  4. which for me looks like the factor influencing increased fruit production more than the other two.

Sorry for the layman language, I would be grateful if someone can correct me if my reasoning is wrong and explain it more precisely (preferably in layman language, though I can understand some botanical terms)

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Trees fruit before the monsoon season to maximize seed germination and seedling recruitment. previous studies have shown that in many species, fruiting occurs just before the wet season such that seeds germinate and establish during the wet season when conditions are most favourable.

Smythe N. 1970 Relationships between fruiting seasons and seed dispersal methods in a Neotropical forest. Am. Nat. 104, 25–35. (doi:10.1086/282638)

So the answer is 4.

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  • $\begingroup$ So you say faster ripening influences the tree to produce more trees in summer? $\endgroup$ – Jesse P Francis Jan 15 '16 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ Adding: Something to be noted here is that question is about "increased fruit production" and not (just) "ripening"! $\endgroup$ – Jesse P Francis Jan 15 '16 at 11:43
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  1. Evolutionarily, these tropical fruit trees would want to maximize the amount of offspring that are produced and that survive to reproduce. This would increase their fitness and ensure that their genes are passed on to the next generation.

Tropical fruit trees would "want" (they're not actively strategizing) to produce their fruit at a time when other sources of food for animals are limited as this would increase the likelihood of most of their fruit being eaten and these seeds being dispersed (through the feces of animals) to many different areas to grow and reproduce themselves. This ensures the continuation of these species of trees.

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  • $\begingroup$ So you say (3) is the best possible reason for increased production of fruits in April-May? I doubt! $\endgroup$ – Jesse P Francis Jan 20 '16 at 5:27

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