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1 June 2002 Vertical Stratification and Caloric Content of the Standing Fruit Crop in a Tropical Lowland Forest
Hinrich Martin Schaefer, Veronika Schmidt, Jens Wesenberg
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Fruit abundance in tropical forests thus far has been studied in relation to consumer populations. Area-based surveys that focus on the quantity and quality of the standing fruit crop of an entire plant community, however, are lacking. This paper presents the results of a four-month study on the seasonality and vertical distribution of the standing fruit crop within a tropical forest during the dry season in southern Venezuela. Fruit numbers ranged from 262,000 to 424,000 fruits/ha. The standing crop was between 39 and 92 kg/ha, yielding 67,000 to 126,000 kJ. Fruits were not evenly distributed in different forest layers. They were most abundant in the canopy above 16 m and scarce between 4 and 12 m above the ground. Despite a scarcity of fruits in the mid-strata, the caloric value of the total fruit supply peaked within a narrow layer of subcanopy at 12 to 16 m above ground due to a high amount of energy per fruit. Palms fruited mostly in this layer, their fruits contributing 59 percent of the energy supplied by all fruits. Above 12 m, we found a broader range of fruit sizes than in the forest below 12 m. Small-sized fruits were distributed in the understory and in the canopy but were nearly absent from the mid-story. Corresponding to the abundance of small-sized fruits in the canopy, small frugivorous species, such as members of the Thraupidae, limited their foraging to the canopy strata whereas larger avian frugivores foraged mainly in the mid-story.

Hinrich Martin Schaefer, Veronika Schmidt, and Jens Wesenberg "Vertical Stratification and Caloric Content of the Standing Fruit Crop in a Tropical Lowland Forest," BIOTROPICA 34(2), 244-253, (1 June 2002).[0244:VSACCO]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 June 2002

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avian frugivores
foraging niche
forest strata
fruit size
fruiting season
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