Primary seed dispersal by red howler monkeys and the effect of defecation patterns on the fate of dispersed seeds

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2002
Authors:E. Andresen
Date Published:Jun
Accession Number:ISI:000176587000008
Keywords:Alouatta, alouatta-palliata, Central Amazonia, defecation pattern, dispersal, Dung beetles, dung beetles scarabaeidae, howler monkeys, los, postdispersal, primary seed dispersal, secondary seed, seed, seed fate, tropical moist forest, tropical rain-forest

The effectiveness of a seed disperser depends on the quantity and quality of dispersal. The quality of dispersal depends in large part on factors that affect the post-dispersal fate of seeds, and yet this aspect of dispersal quality is rarely assessed. In the particular case of seed dispersal through endozoochory the defecation pattern produced has the potential of affecting the fate of dispersed seeds and consequently, dispersal quality and effectiveness. In this study, I assessed the effects of dung presence and dung/seed densities on seed predation by rodents and seconclary dispersal by dung beetles. In particular, I compared seed fates in clumped defecation patterns, as those produced by howler monkeys, with seed faces in scattered defecation patterns, as those produced by other frugivores. I also determined the prevalence of red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) as seed dispersers at the plant community level in Central Amazonia by determining the number of species they dispersed in a 25-month period. I found chat dung presence and a-mount affected rodent and dung beetle behavior. Seed predation rates were higher when dung was present, and when it was in higher densities. The same number of seeds was buried by dung beetles, in clumped versus scattered defecation patterns, but more seeds were buried when they were inside large dung-piles versus small piles. Seed density had no effect on rodent or dung beetle behavior. Results indicate that caution should be taken when categorizing an animal as a high or low quality seed disperser before carefully examining the factors that affect the fate of dispersed seeds. Red howler monkeys dispersed the seeds of 137 species during the study period, which is the highest yet reported number for an Alouatta species, and should thus be considered highly prevalent seed dispersers at the plant community level in Central Amazonian terra firme rain forests.

URL:<Go to ISI>://000176587000008
Alternate Journal:Biotropica
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith