Plant Ecology

, Volume 217, Issue 7, pp 923–933 | Cite as

Frugivore choice and escape from pre-dispersal seed predators: the case of Dialium guianense and two sympatric primate species in southern Mexico

  • Julieta Benítez-Malvido
  • Isela Zermeño-Hernández
  • Ana María González-DiPierro
  • Rafael Lombera
  • Alejandro Estrada


Seed predation and dispersal play key roles in the regeneration of tropical trees. Pre-dispersal predation may cause high mortality in seed crops. Seeds may escape pre-dispersal predation when ingested with the fruit pulp and moved away from the parent trees by frugivores. In southern Mexico, we investigated if seed traits (i.e., length, width, and mass) and seed damage by insects on Dialium guianense differed according to seed source: from the tree crowns, the ground, and from howler (Alouatta pigra) and spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) feces. We counted the number of seeds with circular entrance and/or exit holes in their tegument. Ingested seeds were larger, heavier, and wider than non-ingested seeds. Seeds ingested by the howler were, however, significantly larger than those ingested by the spider monkey. Damaged seeds showed the lowest values for all seed traits. The proportion of damage declined significantly from seeds on the ground (37 %), to seeds in spider monkey feces (29 %), to seeds from tree crowns (11 %), and finally to seeds in howler monkey feces (7 %). Fruit selection by primates influences dispersal quality differently, even when feeding on the same plant species. The howler monkey may increase the reproductive success of D. guianense by selecting larger and predation-free seeds/fruits.


Alouatta pigra Ateles geoffroyi Dialium guianense Frugivore choice Pre-dispersal seed predation Seed-feeding insects 



This research was supported by grants from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Mexico (CONACyT-79121) and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (PAPIIT IN206111 and DGAPA sabbatical grant) to J. Benítez-Malvido. We thank the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP, permission number SGPA/DGVS/07830)) for granting permits to work in the MABR and the Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, UNAM, for providing logistical support. We are grateful to G. Lombera for his valuable assistance in the field and to F. Noguera and J. Romero-Nápoles for identifying the insect taxa. We are grateful for the technical support provided by J. M. Lobato-García, J. Rodríguez-Velázquez, H. Ferreira, and A. Valencia-García. We want to thank L. Culot and an anonymous reviewer whose comments and suggestions improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julieta Benítez-Malvido
    • 1
  • Isela Zermeño-Hernández
    • 1
  • Ana María González-DiPierro
    • 2
  • Rafael Lombera
    • 2
  • Alejandro Estrada
    • 3
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y SustentabilidadUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Unidad Académica Multidisciplinaria Las MargaritasUniversidad Intercultural de ChiapasLas MargaritasMexico
  3. 3.Estación de Biología “Los Tuxtlas”, Instituto de BiologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoSan Andrés TuxtlaMexico

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