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Fast Foods of the Forest: The Influence of Figs on Primates and Hornbills Across Wallace’s Line

  • Margaret F. Kinnaird
  • Timothy G. O’brien

Abstract

We examine relationships between fruit production and patterns of primate and hornbill densities on Sulawesi and Sumatra, Indonesia. Sumatra lies within the Asian biogeographic realm and has greater biodiversity while Sulawesi lies within Wallacea and has greater endemism. Phenological samples share 51% families, 29% genera but only 7% species. Generally, Sumatran trees are dispersed more often by small birds, bats and squirrels. Sulawesi has more wind-dispersed species. Fruiting is more seasonal on Sulawesi and is related to rainfall while Sumatran fruiting patterns show no relationship with rainfall. Sulawesi has larger trees, larger crops and smaller fruits. Average fruit production is five times higher on Sulawesi. On both islands, figs contribute disproportionately to fruit biomass. Hornbill and primate assemblages are less complex on Sulawesi but biomass of both groups is significantly higher. Hornbills and primates share 41 and 45% of diet species on Sumatra and Sulawesi, respectively. Wide-ranging hornbills on both islands decline in number or leave study areas when fig availability is low. Primates and hornbills (except Buceros rhinoceros) do not respond to the availability of other important diet species in the Anacardiaceae, Annonaceae, Meliaceae or Myristicaceae families. Fig availability influences resource defense and grouping patterns of primates and hornbills. We suggest that figs are a keystone guild due to their prime influence on abundance, distribution and behavior of large frugivores in Asia and Wallacea.

Key words

Figs frugivory hornbills Indonesia primates Sulawesi Sumatra 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret F. Kinnaird
    • 1
    • 2
  • Timothy G. O’brien
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Wildlife Conservation Society-Asia ProgramBronx
  2. 2.National Center for Ecological Analysis and SynthesisSanta BarbaraUSA

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