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

International Journal of Primatology (Impact Factor: 1.99). 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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