, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 239-258

Seed dispersal by red howling monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) in the tropical rain forest of French Guiana

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Abstract

A 2-year field study of the frugivorous diet of a howling monkey troop, in a tropical rain forest in French Guiana, shows that they disperse by endozoochory ≥95% of plant species from which they eat ripe fruit. Passage through the digestive tract of howlers does not significantly modify the germination success of most plant species samples. Their low digestion rate (X = 20 hr 40 min) is the ultimate cause of a bimodal defecation rhythm that results in the concentration of 60% of defecations being deposited under sleeping sites. The distance of seed dispersal can reach more than 550 m from parent trees,with a mean of 260 m. Although howling monkeys consume fruits differing in morphological characteristics, they are particularly able to disseminate seeds of species whose fruits have a hard and indehiscent external coat or large seeds or both. In French Guiana, they may be especially important dispersers of the Sapotaceae with fruits that simultaneously present both characteristics.