Primary dispersal of seeds by primates and secondary dispersal by dung beetles in Tikal, Guatemala

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2006
Authors:G. Ponce-Santizo, Andresen, E., Cano, E., Cuaron, A. D.
Date Published:May
Accession Number:ISI:000236766500014
Keywords:alouatta-palliata, Ateles, CEBUS-CAPUCINUS, DEFECATION, GERMINATION literature review function service seed dispersal mammal value, howler monkeys, los-tuxtlas, Mexico, patterns, Scarabaeidae, tropical rain-forest

We linked primary dispersal by spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) and howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) to post-dispersal seed fate by studying the effects of dung type and defecation pattern on secondary seed dispersal by dung beetles. First, we described the defecation patterns for both primate species. Howler monkeys generally defecated in groups (88% of observed defecations), with each individual producing on average 31 g of dung, resulting in a large area of the forest floor (31 m(2)) covered by large amounts of dung (clumped spatial pattern). Spider monkeys generally (96% of observed defecations) defecated individually, each individual producing an average of 11 g of dung, resulting in a small area of the forest floor (2 m(2)) covered by small amounts of dung (scattered spatial pattern). Secondly, we captured dung beetles using as bait the dung of both primate species, to detect differences in the assemblages of these secondary seed dispersers attracted to the dung of both primates. More individual dung beetles, but not more species, were attracted to howler monkey dung than to spider monkey dung. Finally, we assessed experimentally (using plastic beads as seed mimics) how dung type (Ateles vs. Alouatta) and defecation pattern (scattered vs. clumped) affect secondary seed dispersal by dung beetles. We found that post-dispersal seed fate was affected by dung type, with more seeds being buried when present in howler monkey dung, than in spider monkey dung, but was not affected by defecation pattern. It is important to consider post-dispersal processes, such as secondary seed dispersal by dung beetles, when comparing species of primary dispersers.

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