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Keywords:

  • Amazon;
  • campinarana;
  • endozoochory;
  • frugivory;
  • seed dispersal

Abstract

This study evaluated the potential of lowland tapirs as seed dispersers in the northern Brazilian Amazon. The study analyzed the viability of seeds after passage through the gut. Fecal samples were collected from 6 different vegetation physiognomies in Viruá National Park during the dry season. The samples were then kept in a greenhouse for 16 months to allow the seeds to germinate. The seedling species were identified and classified according to the type of fruit, plant habit, seed size and type of ingestion. Of the 111 fecal samples, 94 (84.7%) had viable seeds of 75 species. Melastomataceae was the most frequent family with viable seeds in the fecal samples (69.1% of samples, N= 18 species). The data suggest that the importance of the lowland tapirs as dispersers is not restricted to the species consumed actively by frugivory but also extends to species accidentally consumed during browsing. The occurrence of both large and small viable seeds in the fecal samples as well as a number of large drupes, which probably cannot be transported via endozoochory by any other animal species, provide evidence of the ecological importance of lowland tapirs to the dynamics of the forest-campinarana vegetation mosaic in the region.