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Seed Survival in the Palm Astrocaryum standleyanum: Evidence for Dependence upon its Seed Dispersers

N. Smythe
Biotropica
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Mar., 1989), pp. 50-56
DOI: 10.2307/2388441
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388441
Page Count: 7
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Seed Survival in the Palm Astrocaryum standleyanum: Evidence for Dependence upon its Seed Dispersers
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Abstract

Evidence is presented which indicates that, if the seeds of the Neotropical forest palm Astrocaryum standleyanum are not peeled and buried (in the manner followed by their principal disperser: the agouti, Dasyprocta punctata) the probability of their survival is greatly reduced. Seeds were artificially peeled and dispersed. After 11 months 29.2 percent of those that had been buried had germinated, as opposed to 2.6 percent of those left on the surface. Unburied seeds are eaten by both vertebrate and invertebrate predators; if protected against either, the other alone is sufficient to ensure high mortality. If, however, they are protected from both vertebrate and invertebrate predators, unburied seeds germinate nearly as well as buried seeds. In peeling the fruits, agoutis may be removing invertebrate larvae before they have had time to penetrate the endocarp of the seed. Because of its abundance, because its fruiting is relatively predictable and because the seeds, when stored, remain intact through the annual period of scarcity, Astrocaryum standleyanum constitutes an important food resource for several mammal species in the Panamanian forests.

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