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Possible implications of seed dispersal by the howler monkey for the early recruitment of a legume tree in small rain-forest fragments in Mexico

  • Alberto Anzures-Dadda (a1), Robert H. Manson (a2), Ellen Andresen (a3) and M. Luisa Martínez (a2)

Primates are important seed dispersers in tropical forests, but they are being lost due to forest fragmentation. We compared post-dispersal seed fate and seedling density for the tree Dialium guianense, in forest fragments in which its main seed disperser, the mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) is present, and in fragments in which it is absent. We also carried out a germination experiment to assess gut-passage effect. Seeds extracted from fruits had very low germination (2%) compared with defecated seeds (70%). Seeds in monkey faeces had a lower probability of being attacked by predators, but a higher probability of being attacked by fungus, when compared with seeds inside fruits. Seed fate was similar in fragments with vs. without monkeys, and in sites under parent trees vs. under monkey sleeping sites. Seedling density was highest under sleeping sites in fragments with monkeys, followed by sites under parent trees in fragments with monkeys, and it was lowest in uninhabited fragments, regardless of deposition site. Our study adds to an increasing line of evidence suggesting that loss of frugivores can have strong consequences for plant recruitment.

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Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
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