, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 169-177
Date: 14 Feb 2007

Rare seed-predating mammals determine seed fate of Canarium euphyllum, a large-seeded tree species in a moist evergreen forest, Thailand

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Abstract

Natural seed deposition patterns and their effects on post-dispersal seed fate are critical to tropical tree recruitment. The major dispersal agents of the large-seeded tree Canarium euphyllum in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, are large frugivorous birds such as hornbills, which generated spatially heterogeneous seed deposition patterns because they regurgitated seeds at perching trees and conspecific and heterospecific feeding trees. We investigated the fate of seeds dispersed in this manner using seed removal experiments and automatic camera trapping. Seeds placed experimentally around conspecific feeding trees had higher removal rates than seeds placed elsewhere. These effects were likely mediated by two seed-eating rodents, the Indochinese ground squirrel (Menetes berdmorei) and the giant long-tailed rat (Leopoldamys sabanus). Consequently, the spatial patterns generated by hornbills had consequences for post-dispersal seed fates, particularly whether or not the seeds were removed by rodents. Primary dispersal by hornbills does alter seed fate by altering the probability of rodent–seed interaction, but the ultimate impact of dispersal by hornbills will depend on how important rodent scatterhoarding is to seed germination and seedlings. Given that major seed dispersers of C. euphyllum are now absent or rare in degraded forests in tropical Asia, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the roles of scatterhoarding rodents in these altered habitats in this region.