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Seed Dispersal by Monkeys and the Fate of Dispersed Seeds in a Peruvian Rain Forest

Ellen Andresen
Biotropica
Vol. 31, No. 1 (Mar., 1999), pp. 145-158
DOI: 10.2307/2663968
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2663968
Page Count: 14
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Seed Dispersal by Monkeys and the Fate of Dispersed Seeds in a Peruvian Rain Forest
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Abstract

Primary seed dispersal by two species of monkeys and the effects of rodents and dung beetles on the fate of dispersed seeds are described for a rain forest in southeastern Peru. During the six-month study period (June-November 1992) spider monkeys (Ateles paniscus) dispersed the seeds of 71 plant species, whereas howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) dispersed seeds of 14 species. Spider and howler monkeys also differed greatly in their ranging behavior and defecation patterns, and as a consequence, produced different seed rain patterns. Monkey defecations were visited by 27 species of dung beetles (Scarabaeidae). Dung beetles buried 41 percent of the seeds in the dung, but the number of seeds buried varied greatly, according to seed size. Removal rates of unburied seeds by rodents varied between 63-97 percent after 30 d for 8 plant species. The presence of fecal material increased the percentage of seeds removed by seed predators, but this effect became insignificant with time. Although seed predators found some seeds buried in dung balls (mimicking burial by dung beetles), depth of burial significantly affected the fate of these seeds. Less than 35 percent of Brosimum lactescens seeds buried inside dung balls at a depth of 1 cm remained undiscovered by rodents, whereas at least 75 percent of the seeds escaped rodent detection at a depth of 3 cm and 96 percent escaped at 5 cm. Both dung beetles and rodents greatly affected the fate of seeds dispersed by monkeys. It is thus important to consider postdispersal factors affecting the fate of seeds when assessing the effectiveness of frugivores as seed dispersers.

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