Primate and Dung Beetle Communities in Secondary Growth Rain Forests: Implications for Conservation of Seed Dispersal Systems

International Journal of Primatology (Impact Factor: 1.79). 04/2006; 27(3):855-879. DOI: 10.1007/s10764-006-9027-2

ABSTRACT Conservation efforts are often aimed at one or a few species. However, habitat sustainability relies on ecological interactions among species, such as seed dispersal. Thus, a community-scale conservation strategy may be more valuable in some settings. We describe communities of primary (primates) and secondary (dung beetles) seed dispersers from 5 sites in the Brazilian Amazon. We estimate community biomass of these taxa and, using multivariate ordination, examine the potential for natural reforestation at each site, given the communities of seed dispersers present. Since disturbed habitat is increasingly common and increasingly the focus of conservation efforts, we also examine differences among seed disperser communities between primary forest and secondary growth at each site. Analyses of faunal biomass in different localities and habitats indicate that secondary growth receives nearly as much use by primates as primary forest; given the dominant groups of dung beetles in secondary growth, disturbed habitat should show a pattern of seed burial that is clumped and deep. Areas with high biomass of Alouatta spp. and the large nocturnal dung beetle species may have the greatest potential for natural reforestation of secondary growth particularly for large seeded species. The data suggest that knowledge of the biomass of primary and secondary dispersing fauna facilitates predictions for the likelihood of disturbed habitat to regenerate and comparisons of sites in broader geographical areas e.g., Neotropical vs. Paleotropical forests.

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    ABSTRACT: Almost half of the world's extant primate species are of conservation concern [IUCN, International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, 2008]. Primates are also effective seed dispersers. The implications of and interactions between these two facts are increasingly understood, and data demonstrating the consequences of losing primates for forest ecology are now available from throughout the tropics. However, a reality is that not all species-and the mutualisms among them-can be protected. Conservation managers must make difficult decisions and use shortcuts in the implementation of conservation tactics. Using taxa as "umbrellas" is one such shortcut, although a lack of an operational definition of what an umbrella species is and how to choose one has made implementing this tactic difficult. In this study, I discuss primates as umbrellas by defining a selection index in terms of richness/co-occurrence, rarity, and sensitivity to anthropogenic disturbance. I evaluate the anthropoid assemblage of Kibale National Park, Uganda, in light of the selection index and determine that Cercopithecus is the genus best fitting the criteria for umbrella status. I then evaluate the functional significance-in terms of seed dispersal-of using Cercopithecus monkeys (guenons) as umbrellas. Results from 1,047 hr of observation of focal fruiting trees in Kibale indicate that Cercopithecus ascanius was the most commonly observed frugivore visitor (July 2001-June 2002). These data corroborate earlier data collected in Kibale demonstrating that guenons are highly effective seed dispersers. Patterns of richness/co-occurrence, rarity, and sensitivity observed in Kibale are reflected in Afrotropical forests more generally, with the genus Cercopithecus tending to exhibit greatest richness/co-occurrence with taxonomically similar species, to be neither extremely rare nor ubiquitous, and also to be moderately sensitive to human disturbance. Moreover, in all available evaluations of frugivory in Afrotropical forests, guenons emerge as among the most important seed dispersers relative to other taxa.
    American Journal of Primatology 01/2011; 73(1):9-24. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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