, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 133-144

Seed dispersal and predation by Yakushima macaques, Macaca fuscata yakui, in a warm temperate forest of Yakushima Island, southern Japan

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The relationships between fruit morphology and the foraging behavior of the Yakushima macaque, Macaca fuscata yakui were studied during a 9-month field study and series of laboratory experiments on Yakushima Island, southern Japan. These relationships may affect seed germination traits through seed dispersal. The macaques’ foraging behavior was observed in order to obtain data concerning the treatment of pulp and seeds. Seeds in feces and spat seeds were collected and analyzed. A linear discriminant analysis of the data led to the following results: (i) an increase in the relative flesh volume of a fruit was one of the potential factors which increased the probability of seed dispersal by the macaques; and (ii) seed size was an important parameter in relation to the type of seed dispersal (by defecation or spitting out). The germination test was conducted in a laboratory, then the germination rates and delays of dispersed seeds were compared with those of seeds collected directly from trees. The germination of dispersed seeds of Ficus thunbergii, Eurya japonica, and Vaccinium bracteatum, was significantly enhanced by passage through the macaques’ gut. The enhanced germination behavior was not seen in larger seeds, such as those of Psychotria serpens, Myrsine seguinii, Diospyros morrisiana, and Neolitsea sericea. The germination enhancement in small-seeded plants could be due to a sorting effect from the passage through the gut, which selects seeds with a narrower range of germination traits.