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Tapir-Generated Seed Shadows: Scale-Dependent Patchiness in the Amazon Rain Forest

José M. V. Fragoso
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 85, No. 4 (Aug., 1997), pp. 519-529
DOI: 10.2307/2960574
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2960574
Page Count: 11
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Tapir-Generated Seed Shadows: Scale-Dependent Patchiness in the Amazon Rain Forest
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Abstract

1 Maximiliana maripa is a large seeded palm that occurs in monodominant patches (clumps) in the Amazonian forest of Maraca Island, Roraima, Brazil. 2 Rodents, collared peccaries (Tayassu tajacu), deer (Odocoileus virginianus and Mazama spp.) and primates, all short-distance, small-to-medium bodied dispersers, ate the pulp of Maximiliana fruits and spat out intact seeds, from 97 to 100% of them within 5m of parent plants (below the tree crown). 3 Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) swallowed entire fruits and defecated intact seeds at latrines located up to 2km from the nearest palm clump, creating a large-scale, punctuated seed shadow. 4 Bruchid beetle (Pachymeris cardo) larvae killed 77% of seeds remaining near parent trees, but only 0.7% of the 6140 seeds dispersed by tapirs to latrines. 5 Densities of zero-year seedlings to fifth-year saplings were significantly higher at tapir latrine sites than around parent trees located in conspecific aggregations; they were also significantly higher for the zero and one year classes at latrines than at randomly selected nonpalm, nonlatrine control trees. 6 Seeds dispersed by tapirs to latrines and secondarily dispersed by rodents gave rise to the seedlings and saplings located around the latrine sites, while seeds secondarily dispersed by rodents gave rise to the seedlings and saplings around control trees. 7 Collared (Tayassu tajacu) and white-lipped (T. pecari) peccaries accounted for high seedling and sapling mortality around parent trees. 8 Adult Maximiliana attained densities of 32 trees per 25000 m2 within these patches. 9 Clump dispersal of seeds by tapirs, a meso-scale process, interacting with the small-scale process of seed dispersal by rodents, is sufficient to explain the creation of palm patches.

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