Seed dispersal and movement patterns in two species of Ceratogymna hornbills in a West African tropical lowland forest

Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 USA
Oecologia (Impact Factor: 3.25). 09/2000; 125(2):249-257. DOI: 10.1007/s004420000445

ABSTRACT We studied two species of Ceratogymna hornbills, the black-casqued hornbill, C. atrata, and the white-thighed hornbill, C. cylindricus, in the tropical forests of Cameroon, to understand their movement patterns and evaluate their effectiveness as seed dispersers. To estimate hornbill contribution to a particular tree species' seed shadow we combined data from movements, determined by radio-tracking, with data from seed passage trials. For 13 individuals tracked over 12 months, home range varied between 925 and 4,472 ha, a much larger area than reported for other African avian frugivores. Seed passage times ranged from 51 to 765 min, with C. atrata showing longer passage times than C. cylindricus, and larger seeds having longer gut retention times than smaller seeds. Combining these data, we estimated that seed shadows were extensive for the eight tree species examined, with approximately 80% of seeds moved more than 500 m from the parent plant. Maximum estimated dispersal distances for larger seeds were 6,919 and 3,558 m for C. atrata and C. cylindricus, respectively. The extent of hornbill seed shadows suggests that their influence in determining forest structure will likely increase as other larger mammalian dispersers are exterminated.

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    ABSTRACT: Logging and hunting are two key direct threats to the survival of wildlife in the tropics, and also disrupt important ecosystem processes. We investigated the impacts of these two factors on the different stages of the seed dispersal cycle, including abundance of plants and their dispersers and dispersal of seeds and recruitment, in a tropical forest in north-east India. We focused on hornbills, which are important seed dispersers in these forests, and their food tree species. We compared abundances of hornbill food tree species in a site with high logging and hunting pressures (heavily disturbed) with a site that had no logging and relatively low levels of hunting (less disturbed) to understand logging impacts on hornbill food tree abundance. We compared hornbill abundances across these two sites. We, then, compared the scatter-dispersed seed arrival of five large-seeded tree species and the recruitment of four of those species. Abundances of hornbill food trees that are preferentially targeted by logging were two times higher in the less disturbed site as compared to the heavily disturbed site while that of hornbills was 22 times higher. The arrival of scatter-dispersed seeds was seven times higher in the less disturbed site. Abundances of recruits of two tree species were significantly higher in the less disturbed site. For another species, abundances of younger recruits were significantly lower while that of older recruits were higher in the heavily disturbed site. Our findings suggest that logging reduces food plant abundance for an important frugivore-seed disperser group, while hunting diminishes disperser abundances, with an associated reduction in seed arrival and altered recruitment of animal-dispersed tree species in the disturbed site. Based on our results, we present a conceptual model depicting the relationships and pathways between vertebrate-dispersed trees, their dispersers, and the impacts of hunting and logging on these pathways.
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    07/2013, Degree: Master's, Supervisor: Dr. Marilyn Norconk

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