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  • Cited by 26
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Linking seed fate to natural dispersal patterns: factors affecting predation and scatter-hoarding of Virola calophylla seeds in Peru

  • Sabrina E. Russo (a1) (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2005

Natural seed deposition patterns and their effects on post-dispersal seed fate are critical in tropical tree recruitment. Previous research showed that the key dispersal agent of the neotropical tree, Virola calophylla, is the spider monkey (Ateles paniscus). Spider monkeys generate a heterogeneous seed deposition pattern because they scatter-disperse seeds diurnally, whereas they clump-disperse seeds at their sleeping sites. The recruitment consequences of this pattern were investigated using manipulative experiments and observations. Scatter-hoarding by spiny rats (Proechimys spp.) caused little rearrangement of the initial seed deposition pattern because they moved seeds only short distances. Seed survival to the seedling stage depended negatively on conspecific seed density and positively on the distance from the nearest adult V. calophylla female. These effects were likely mediated by two important seed predators, spiny rats and beetles (Scolytidae). Furthermore, spider monkeys' seed deposition patterns influenced seed survival. Scatter-dispersed and experimentally dispersed seeds had the highest survival. Conversely, clump-dispersed seeds at sleeping sites, which are far from V. calophylla females, and non-dispersed seeds had equally low survival, suggesting that conspecific density- and distance-dependence acted independently and did not explain all variation in seed survival. Instead, other characteristics of the seed deposition pattern, such as the multi-specific assemblage of seeds at sleeping sites, also affected post-dispersal seed fates.

Resumen: La conexión entre el patrón natural de dispersión de semillas con el destino después de la dispersión es clave para el reclutamiento de árboles tropicales. Mediante experimentos y observaciones se investigó esta conexión utilizando el árbol neotropical Virola calophylla (Myristicaceae). Ateles paniscus (maquisapa), el principal dispersor de sus semillas, genera un patrón de deposición heterogéneo. Durante el día las semillas son depositadas de manera esparcida mientras que en los dormitorios las semillas son depositadas de manera agregada. En este estudio se encontró que los roedores espinosos (Proechimys spp.) almacenaron semillas individuales debajo de la hojarasca, sin embargo estos no alteraron el patrón de dispersión ya que las semillas fueron transportadas distancias cortas y la tasa de predación fue alta. Se encontró que la tasa de sobrevivencia hasta la etapa de plántula tuve una relación negativa con la densidad de las semillas y una relación positiva con la distancia al árbol hembra de V. calophylla mas cercano. Estos efectos sucedieron por medio de roedores espinosos y coleópteros (Scolytidae), predadores importantes de las semillas de V. callophylla. Adicionalemente, el patrón de deposición de los maquisapas influenció la sobrevivencia de las semillas. Tanto las semillas dispersadas por los maquisapas como las dispersadas experimentalmente tuvieron la tasa de sobrevivencia más alta. Por el contrario, tanto las semillas depositadas en los dormitorios, usualmente lejos de hembras de V. calophylla, como las semillas que cayeron debajo del árbol hembra tuvieron bajos niveles de sobrevivencia. Estos reultados sugieren que tanto la densidad como la distancia tuvieron efectos independientes y no explicaron toda la variación observada en la sobrevivencia de semillas. Por el contrario, otras características de la deposición de semillas tales como la riqueza de especies de la comunidad de semillas en los dormitorios también afectaron el destino de las semillas después de dispersadas.

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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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