ABSTRACT Tracking the dispersal of seeds by fruit‐eating animals in tropical rain forests is crucial to further our understanding of plant–frugivore interactions and their impacts upon forest regeneration and plant population dynamics. We tested the feasibility of tracking bat‐dispersed seeds in a Philippine lowland rain forest with the help of fluorescent pigment. The powder was mixed with acetone and sprayed to ripe fruits of fig trees, i.e., Ficus septica and F. variegata. During nightly monitoring using a hand‐held ultraviolet lamp bat deposits (seed‐containing spat outs and feces) could successfully be detected. Distances and directions of deposit sites to the focal trees were recorded and seed shadow areas were analyzed. Bats dispersed most of the seeds less than 50 m away from the parent plants resulting in seed shadow areas < 0.30 ha in size. An in situ fruit preference experiment showed that fluorescent powder is unlikely to deter bats from feeding on ripe figs. In conclusion, the technique is simple, inexpensive, noninvasive, applicable to different fields of research and allows one to follow the fate of seeds from known sources.
Biotropica – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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