Estimates of the number of seeds dispersed by a population of primates in a lowland forest in western Amazonia

  • Stevenson P
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A study was conducted to compare the estimates of seed dispersal by the woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha) with seed trap data and direct observations on fruiting trees to determine the proportion of seeds in the community dispersed by woolly monkeys. The study site is located in a tropical lowland forest on the eastern border of Tinigua National Park, Colombia. Results revealed a total of 1562 depositions during the study but only 36 of these contained seeds. On average, a single dropping included 70 seeds, but the number of seeds per deposition was highly variable (range: 0-1049) and dependent on the abundance of small seeds. Seeds smaller than 3 mm, from species such as Cecropia spp., Coussapoa spp., Ficus spp. and Henriettella spp. were the most abundant in the faecal samples (83%). In general, there was a good agreement between the number of seeds manipulated and dispersed by woolly monkeys. The difference between the number of seeds manipulated and dispersed was not associated with insufficient sampling of feeding rates. More discrepancies between quantification estimates were found at short timescales (e.g. days) than at an interval of 1 month, when the regression coefficient between manipulated and dispersed seeds was highest. Thirty-seven species were never or only rarely dispersed, suggesting either predation or inefficient dispersal. Different animal species disperse 56.8 kg/ha of seeds per year. When complete fruits (including seeds) are considered, the proportion of dispersed seeds in the community changes from 50.1 to 19.6%. The species most exclusively used by woolly monkeys were mainly protected fruits or large unprotected fruits, which is in agreement with the expected patterns. The highest number of species recorded feeding on a single species of plant was 43 (Ficus sphenophylla) and the lowest number was zero. Nocturnal activity was substantial for only a few species of plants, such as Cecropia membranacea and C. engleriana. On average, woolly monkeys removed 35% of the fruits in this community-wide analysis, including the most abundant canopy species in the area




Stevenson, P. (2007). Estimates of the number of seeds dispersed by a population of primates in a lowland forest in western Amazonia. Seed Dispersal: Theory and Its Application in a …, 1–29. Retrieved from

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