1 Introduction</h5> Worldwide, tropical forests are being emptied of their large vertebrate populations ( Brook et al., 2003; Fa et al., 2003; Peres and Palacios, 2007 ). Defaunation, the local extirpation of large vertebrates, is driven by myriad activities, including rural population growth, artisanal mining, logging and road construction; but the proximate factor is overhunting. Subsistence and commercial hunting take an enormous toll on populations of tropical mammals, birds and reptiles, with annual losses of animals estimated at 6 million in Southeast Asia, 16 million in the Brazilian Amazon, and 18 million in Central Africa ( Butler, 2013 ).</P>It is widely recognized that losses of vertebrate populations can disrupt plant–animal interactions, threatening the integrity of natural ecosystems. Hunting can alter rates of pre-dispersal predation ( Beckman and Muller-Landau, 2007 ), seed dispersal ( Wright et al., 2000; Galetti et al., 2006; Brodie et al., 2009; Holbrook and Loiselle, 2009 ), seed predation ( Wright et al., 2000, 2007a,b ), seedling predation ( Vanthomme et al., 2010 ), and herbivory ( Dirzo and Miranda, 1991 ). Changes in these processes should have cascading effects for species composition, diversity, and structure of plant communities ( Muller-Landau, 2007; Wright et al.,
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2013
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