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Removal of black palm (Astrocaryum standleyanum) seeds by spiny rats (Proechimys semispinosus)

  • Gregory A. Hoch (a1) and Gregory H. Adler (a2)
Abstract

A seed-removal experiment was conducted to assess the role of Proechimys semispinosus (Central American spiny rat) as potential predator and disperser of Astrocaryum standleyanum (black palm) seeds. One hundred fresh ripe A. standleyanum fruits were placed in semipermeable cages on each of 14 small islands in Panama, and seed disappearance rates were calculated for each island. Spiny rat density and biomass were determined by live-trapping on each island for 5 consecutive days and 4 nights. Censuses of fruiting trees were conducted on each island to control for effects of food availability on removal of palm fruits. Disappearance rates were related positively to total spiny rat density, density of adult and subadult spiny rats, and spiny rat biomass, but the density of fruiting trees accounted for very little variation. Spiny rats evidently prey heavily on A. standleyanum seeds, based on the high removal rates and on feeding observations of captive individuals. Since spiny rats may scatterhoard A. standleyanum seeds, they may also function as effective seed dispersers if seeds are removed to favourable germination sites unavailable to other seed predators. Results indicate that spiny rats, because of their abundance and wide distribution, may be important but overlooked predators and dispersers of A. standleyanum seeds and of other large-seeded tree species.

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References
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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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