, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 169-175
Date: 08 May 2008

How much is a lot? Seed dispersal by white-faced capuchins and implications for disperser-based studies of seed dispersal systems

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Abstract

The quantity of seeds dispersed is considered one of several means to determine the dispersal effectiveness of an animal. However, there is little consistency in the manner in which quantities are measured or presented. Here, we quantify seed dispersal by white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica by measuring: degree of frugivory, number of plant species consumed, the number of seeds consumed per unit time, the number of seeds dispersed intact per unit time, and the number of seeds dispersed intact per unit space. Forty-nine percent of C. capucinus diet is composed of the fruit of 39 species, 4 of which constitute 82% of the frugivory. Seventy-four percent of consumed fruits contain seeds that pass intact through the capuchin digestive system. Capuchins pass a mean of 15.7 seeds of a mean of 1.3 species per defecation, and defecate 25.4 times per 12-h day. These numbers are compared with extant data for C. capucinus, and possible reasons for discrepancies among results between studies are discussed. We propose a standardization of quantitative measures of seed dispersal so that quantifications of seed dispersal can be compared within species, and eventually across species.