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1 December 2001 Poachers and Forest Fragmentation Alter Seed Dispersal, Seed Survival, and Seedling Recruitment in the Palm Attalea butyraceae, with Implications for Tropical Tree Diversity
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Abstract
We examined the interaction between a palm and two bruchid beetles along with several mammal species to explore how poachers and habitat fragmentation may indirectly alter the spatial pattern of seed dispersal, seed predation, and seedling recruitment in central Panama. The large, stony endocarps of Attalea butyraceae decay slowly and bear distinctive scars when opened by rodents or beetles. We determined the final distance between endocarps and reproductive trees (which we call an ecologically effective dispersal distance), the predation status of each endocarp, and the distance between seedlings and reproductive trees. The 68 focal trees were divided among 14 sites and four levels of anthropogenic disturbance. Levels of disturbance included full protection from poachers, light and heavy pressure from poachers, and small island habitat fragments. Ecologically effective seed dispersal distances were greatest for protected sites, intermediate for lightly poached sites, and shortest for heavily poached sites and habitat fragments. Seed predation by rodents increased with distance to the nearest reproductive Attalea and was greatest for fully protected sites, intermediate for lightly poached sites, and least for heavily poached sites and habitat fragments. Seed predation by beetles reversed the patterns described for seed predation by rodents. Total seed predation by beetles and rodents combined was independent of distance, greatest for fully protected sites, and lower for poached sites and habitat fragments. Seedling densities were always greatest close to reproductive trees; however, the increase in seedling densities close to reproductive trees was minimal for fully protected sites, clearly evident for poached sites, and pronounced for habitat fragments. Increased seedling recruitment near conspecific trees may in time reduce tree diversity where humans disrupt mammal communities.
S. Joseph Wright and Herbert C. Duber "Poachers and Forest Fragmentation Alter Seed Dispersal, Seed Survival, and Seedling Recruitment in the Palm Attalea butyraceae, with Implications for Tropical Tree Diversity1," BIOTROPICA 33(4), (1 December 2001). https://doi.org/10.1646/0006-3606(2001)033[0583:PAFFAS]2.0.CO;2
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