We examined the effect of seed ingestion by three ateline primates: woolly monkeys, Lagothrix lagothricha; spider monkeys, Ateles belzebuth; and, red howler, Alouatta seniculus on germination rates and latency periods of seeds of several plant species in Tinigua National Park, Colombia. We collected dispersed seeds from feces and control seeds from the parental trees and washed them for germination trials. For the majority of plants, dispersed seeds germinated as well or better than control seeds did. Although spider monkeys depend more heavily on fruits than the other monkey species do, they were not more efficient than howlers or woolly monkeys at improving germination rates. A considerable proportion of the seeds dispersed by howlers and woolly monkeys showed reduced latency periods to germination, but spider monkeys showed less effect on reducing germination time. This result may be related to longer gut retention times, but such a trend has not been observed in other primate species. We conclude that, like many other primates, ateline monkeys are effective seed dispersers in terms of their effects on the seeds they swallow because they rarely decrease their germination rates. We discuss problems that make interspecific comparisons difficult, such as inappropriate control seeds and differences associated with germination substrates, and we stress the importance of studying other components of seed dispersal effectiveness.
International Journal of Primatology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 12, 2004
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