Medium-sized carnivorous mammals are important seed dispersers of fleshy fruits. The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus) often feeds on fleshy fruits and forms latrines. This behavior may potentially lead to seed dispersal. To determine if this is the case, we studied 1) seed recovery in the droppings of raccoon dogs, and 2) the transportation of seeds between habitats using plastic markers in a western suburb of Tokyo, Japan. In total, 32,473 seeds of 50 plant taxa were recovered from 120 raccoon dog droppings during a year, and 95.7% of the seeds were found to be those of fleshy fruits. The species most frequently recovered were the eurya (Eurya japonica, 52.6%), the brambles (Rubus spp., 17.4%), and the black night shade (Solanum nigrum, 16.0%). A total of 7,412 plastic markers were embedded in baits at 14 bait plots and were recovered in the feces of the raccoon dogs at 22 latrines. The “transportation rates” were calculated in 50-m distance classes and found that most seeds (43.5%) were deposited within 50 m from the bait point, suggesting very short seed dispersal distances. Inter-habitat transportation was observed: 64.9% of the retrieved markers deposited in the forest were transported to other places within the forest. In contrast, almost all of the markers (99.4%) deposited in the open site were transported within the same habitat. These findings suggest that the seeds of forest plants bearing berries can be dispersed out of the forest to open areas by raccoon dogs.
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Vol. 32 • No. 2