Hunting and plant community dynamics in tropical forests: a synthesis and future directions

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:K. E. Stoner, Vulinec, K., S. Wright, J., Peres, C. A.
Keywords:bushmeat, management plans, plant community structure, seed dispersal, seed predation

This synthesis builds on the preceding articles of this Special Section and has three goals. We first review the nascent literature that addresses indirect effects of hunting for tropical forest plant communities. Next, we highlight the potential indirect effects of hunting for other groups of organisms. Our final goal is to consider what could be done to ameliorate the demographic threats to harvest-sensitive game species caused by unsustainable hunting. Three conclusions are possible at this time concerning the impact of hunting for tropical forest plant communities: (1) Hunting tends to reduce seed movement for animal-dispersed species with very large diaspores; (2) Hunting reduces seed predation by granivorous vertebrates for species with large seeds; and (3) Hunting alters the species composition of the seedling and sapling layers. The cascading effects of hunting are already known to affect bruchid beetles and dung beetles and are likely to affect other, nongame taxa. To ameliorate these problems, several lines of research should be further explored to facilitate the development of game management plans including: (1) alternative use of sources of animal protein; (2) income supplementation for local people from sources other than wild meat; (3) outreach and extension activities for communities; (4) recognition and facilitation of the shifting of attitudes towards hunting; (5) implementation of community-based wildlife management programs in regulated-use areas such as extractive reserves; and (6) landscape-scale conservation planning that maximizes the source-sink dynamics of harvested and unharvested game populations and enforces game regulations in strictly protected areas.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith