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Autor(s):A. Jara-Guerrero, G. Escribano-Avila, C. Espinosa, M. De la Cruz, M. Méndez
Títol:White-tailed deer as the last megafauna dispersing seeds in Neotropical dry forests: the role of fruit and seed traits
JCR Impact Factor:2.989
Resum:© 2017 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation Endozoochory is a prominent form of seed dispersal in tropical dry forests. Most extant megafauna that perform such seed dispersal are ungulates, which can also be seed predators. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is one of the last extant megafauna of Neotropical dry forests, but whether it serves as a legitimate seed disperser is poorly understood. We studied seed dispersal patterns and germination after white-tailed deer gut passage in a tropical dry forest in southwest Ecuador. Over 23 mo, we recorded ca 2000 seeds of 11 species in 385 fecal samples. Most seeds belonged to four species of Fabaceae: Chloroleucon mangense, Senna mollissima, Piptadenia flava, and Caesalpinia glabrata. Seeds from eight of the 11 species dispersed by white-tailed deer germinated under controlled conditions. Ingestion did not affect germination of C. mangense and S. mollissima, whereas C. glabrata showed reduced germination. Nevertheless, the removal of fruit pulp resulting from ingestion by white-tailed deer could have a deinhibition effect on germination due to seed release. Thus, white-tailed deer play an important role as legitimate seed dispersers of woody species formerly considered autochorous. Our results suggest that more research is needed to fully understand the ecological and evolutionary effects of the remaining extant megafauna on plant regeneration dynamics in the dry Neotropics.

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