Potential Keystone Plant Species for the Frugivore Community at Tinigua Park, Colombia

  • Pablo Stevenson

Abstract

Different practical problems restrict the possibility of rigorously testing the role of plants as keystone species in tropical forests, and therefore we do not yet know the impacts that could result from their removal. Currently, the criteria used to suggest keystone plant species in tropical forests include an assessment of their importance in supporting frugivore communities during periods of fruit scarcity, their reliability during these periods, their abundance, and the number of species that feed on their fruits. However, even for resources that match these criteria it has been shown that the density of these plant species is not necessarily correlated with the abundance of frugivores, so their relevance is still an open question. In this study I use information on feeding behavior and phenological data collected over three years in Tinigua National Park, Colombia, to identify potential plant keystone resources for the fruiteating animals. Among 29 plant species that produced fruit or were consumed in periods of fruit scarcity, I found virtually no case of a species that could maintain a large proportion of the frugivore community. Plant species previously suggested playing keystone roles, such as palms and figs, were included in the list. But palms did not support a very large coterie of frugivores and figs were reliable only at the genus level. The fact that only 3 of the 29 species suggested to play keystone roles at Tinigua were present in a recent review of the potential keystone resources in Neotropical forests (Peres, 2000), suggests that species playing important roles in one community may be unimportant in other localities. I conclude that postulating keystone resources in tropical forests might lead to strategies to protect local animal guilds, but it is difficult to find species that could support the majority of frugivores in complex communities and it is naïve to generalize about their roles across localities. I suggest that the bulk of frugivores in Tinigua (i.e. primates) may use fat reserves accumulated during periods of fruit abundance to survive the lean period, and therefore keystone resources might not be restricted to particular seasons.

Key words

Frugivory keystone resources phenology primates tropical forests 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adler, G. H. (1998). Impacts of resource abundance on populations of a tropical forest rodent. Ecology, 79, 242–254.Google Scholar
  2. Angulo, M. A. (2001). Determinación del rango de hogar y patrones de actividad de una manada de monos ardilla (Saimiri sciureus) en el Parque Nacional Natural Tinigua. Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas. Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.Google Scholar
  3. Anstett, M. C., HossaertMcKey M. & McKey, D. (1997). Modeling the persistence of small populations of strongly interdependent species: Figs and fig wasps. Conservation Biology 11, 204–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bender, E. A., Case T. J. & Gilpin, M. E. (1984). Perturbation Experiments in Community Ecology-Theory and Practice. Ecology, 65, 1–13.Google Scholar
  5. Conklin, N. L. & Wrangham, R. W. (1994). The Value of Figs to a Hind-Gut Fermenting Frugivore-a Nutritional Analysis. Biochem. Syst. Ecol., 22, 137–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Defler, T. R. & Defler, S. B. (1996). Diet of a group of Lagothrix lagothricha lagothricha in Southeastern Colombia. International Journal of Primatology, 17, 161–189.Google Scholar
  7. Dew. L. (2001). Synecology and Seed Dispersal in Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii) and Spider Monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) in Parque Nacional Yasuni, Ecuador. PhD dissertation, University of California, Davis.Google Scholar
  8. Di Fiore, A. F. (1997). Ecology and behavior of lowland woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii, Atelinae) in Eastern Ecuador. PhD dissertation, University of California, Davis.Google Scholar
  9. Di Fiore, A. (2001). Ranging behavior and foraging ecology of lowland woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, suppl. 32, 59–59.Google Scholar
  10. Fietz, J. & Ganzhorn, J. U. (1999). Feeding ecology of the hibernating primate Cheirogaleus medius: how does it get so fat? Oecologia, 121, 157–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fincke, O. M., Yanoviak, S. P. & Hanschu, R. D. (1997). Predation by odonates depresses mosquito abundance in water-filled tree holes in Panama. Oecologia, 112, 244–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Garwood, N. (1982). Seasonal rythm of seed germitation in a semideciduous forest. In E. G. Leigh Jr., A. S. Rand & D. M. Windsor (Eds.), the Ecology of a Tropical Forest (pp. 173–185). Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gautier-Hion, A. & Michaloud, G. (1989). Are Figs Always Keystone Resources for Tropical Frugivorous Vertebrates-a Test in Gabon. Ecology, 70, 1826–1833.Google Scholar
  14. Howe, H. F. (1977). Bird Activity and Seed Dispersal of a Tropical Wet Forest Tree. Ecology, 58, 539–550.Google Scholar
  15. Janson, C. H. (1984). Female choice and mating system of the brown capuchin monkey Cebus apella (Primates: Cebidae). Journal of Comparative Ethology, 65, 177–200.Google Scholar
  16. Janson, C. H. & Emmons, L. H. (1990). Ecological Structure of teh nonflying mammal community at Cocha Cashu biological station, Manu National Park, Peru. In A. Gentry (Ed.). Four neotropical rainforests (pp. 314–338). New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Mills, L. S., Soule M. E. & Doak, D. F. (1993). The Keystone-Species Concept in Ecology and Conservation. Bioscience, 43, 219–224.Google Scholar
  18. Paine, R. T. 1969. Pisaster-Tegula Interaction-Prey Patches, Predator Food Preference, and Intertidal Community Structure. Ecology, 50, 950–961.Google Scholar
  19. Peres, C. A. (1994a). Diet and Feeding Ecology of Gray Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha cana) in Central Amazonia-Comparisons With Other Atelines. International Journal Primatology, 15, 799–799.Google Scholar
  20. Peres, C. A. (1994b). Which are the largest New World monkeys? Journal of Human Evolution, 26, 245–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Peres, C. A. (2000). Identifying keystone plant resources in tropical forests: the case of gums from Parkia pods. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 16, 287–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Power, M. E., Matthews, W. J. & Stewart, A. J. (1985). Grazing minnows, piscivorous baass and stream algae: dynamics of a strong interaction. Ecology, 66, 1448–1456.Google Scholar
  23. Power, M. E. & Mills, L. S. (1995). The Keystone Cops Meet in Hilo. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 10, 182–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Stevenson, P. R. (2001). The Relationship between fruit production and primate abundance in Neotropical forests. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 72, 161–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stevenson, P. R., Quiñones, M. J. & Ahumada, J. A. (2000). Influence of fruit availability on ecological overlap among four neotropical primates at Tinigua National Park, Colombia. Biotropica, 32, 533–544.Google Scholar
  26. Stevenson, P. R. (2002). Frugivory and Seed Dispersal by Woolly Monkeys at Tinigua Park, Colombia. PhD. dissertation. Dept. of Anthroppology. SUNY at Stony Brook.USA.Google Scholar
  27. Strier, K.B. (1992). Atelinae Adaptations-Behavioral Strategies and Ecological Constraints. American Journal of Physical.Anthropology, 88, 515–524.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Terborgh, J. (1986). Keystone plant resources in the tropical forests. In M. E. Soule (Ed.). Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity (pp. 330–344)., Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.Google Scholar
  29. Terborgh, J., Lopez, L., Nunez, P., Rao, M. Shahabuddin,, G., Orihuela, G., Riveros, M., Ascanio, R. Adler, G. H. Lambert, T. D. & Balbas, L. (2001). Ecological meltdown in predator-free forest fragments. Science, 294, 1923–1926.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Terborgh, J. & van Schaik, C. P. (1987). Convergence vs. nonconvergence in Primate Communities. In J. H. Gee, & P. S. Giller (Eds.). Organization of Communities, Past and Present (pp. 205–226). Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
  31. van Schaik, C. P. & Pfannes, K. (2002). Tropical Climates and Phenology: a primate perspective (inpress).Google Scholar
  32. van Schaik, C. P., Terborgh, J. & Wright, S. J. (1993). The Phenology of Tropical Forests-Adaptive Significance and Consequences for Primary Consumers. Annual. Review of Ecology and Systematics, 24, 353–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo Stevenson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySUNYStony BrookUSA

Personalised recommendations