Here we present data on the morphology and habits of male and female individuals of Chelonoidis carbonaria and on their diet based on scat analysis (n = 21) at Fazenda Rio Negro, Brazilian Pantanal, subregion of Nhecolândia, from January 2004 to April 2007. The tortoises in the Pantanal had an average larger weight than the ones sampled in the Amazon, which could be a result of low local hunting pressure over the species and/or abundant resource availability. For both males and females, fruits represented the highest portion of items consumed, reflecting the importance of fruits in their diet. Because 90% of the seeds found in scat samples were found intact, and considering both the retention time of seeds in the digestive tract and distance traveled while retaining the seeds, tortoises can be considered important seed dispersers in the Pantanal. For instance, we found out that tortoises can be extremely important in the dispersal and recruitment of Syagrus flexuosa, an uncommon palm species in the study area, the seeds of which are not usually found in other frugivores' scats. Also, the tortoise's ability to ingest large-sized seeds that are usually consumed by a limited range of dispersers make tortoises even more important especially in areas where mammals exist in low density or are already extinct.
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Vol. 6 • No. 1