Seed survival and dispersal of an endemic Atlantic forest palm: the combined effects of defaunation and forest fragmentation

Authors

  • MAURO GALETTI,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratório de Biologia da Conservação, Grupo de Fenologia e Dispersão de Sementes, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), CP 199, 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
    2. Instituto de Biologia da Conservação (IBC), Av. P-13, 294, Vila Paulista, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
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  • CAMILA I. DONATTI,

    1. Laboratório de Biologia da Conservação, Grupo de Fenologia e Dispersão de Sementes, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), CP 199, 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
    2. Instituto de Biologia da Conservação (IBC), Av. P-13, 294, Vila Paulista, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
    3. Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ/USP), Av. Pádua Dias 11, Caixa Postal 9, 13418-900, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
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  • ALEXANDRA S. PIRES,

    1. Laboratório de Biologia da Conservação, Grupo de Fenologia e Dispersão de Sementes, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), CP 199, 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
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  • PAULO R. GUIMARÃES JR,

    1. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, CP 6109, 13083-970, Campinas, SP, Brazil
    2. Integrative Ecology Group, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Pabellón del Perú, Avda. M. Luisa S/N, E-41013, Seville, Spain
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  • PEDRO JORDANO

    1. Integrative Ecology Group, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Pabellón del Perú, Avda. M. Luisa S/N, E-41013, Seville, Spain
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  • Guest edited by William J. Baker and Scott Zona

*E-mail: mgaletti@rc.unesp.br

Abstract

About 45 palm species occur in the Atlantic forest of Brazil, and most of them are affected by loss of seed dispersers resulting from forest fragmentation and hunting. Here we report the effects of habitat loss and defaunation on the seed dispersal system of an endemic palm, Astrocaryum aculeatissimum. We evaluated seed removal, insect and rodent seed predation, and scatter-hoarding in nine sites, ranging from 19 ha to 79 000 ha. We report the seedling, juvenile and adult palm densities in this range of sites. Endocarps remaining beneath the parent palm had a higher probability of being preyed upon by insects in small, mostly fragmented and more defaunated sites. The frequency of successful seed removal, scatter-hoarding and consumption by rodents increased in the larger, less defaunated sites. Successful removal and dispersal collapsed in small (< 1000 ha), highly defaunated sites and frequently resulted in low densities of both seedlings and juveniles. Our results indicate that a large fraction of Atlantic forest palms that rely on scatter-hoarding rodents may become regionally extinct due to forest fragmentation and defaunation. Current management practices including palm extraction and hunting pressure have a lasting effect on Atlantic forest palm regeneration by severely limiting successful recruitment of prereproductive individuals. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 151, 141–149.

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