The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Lemur movement pattern and its implications for seed distribution


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University

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Many frugivorous primates disperse the seeds of numerous tropical plant species. The foraging movement pattern of such seed-dispersers may influence the distribution of plant populations because it determines the destination of a seed, including its direction and the distance it is carried from its source. However, relatively little is known about the movement patterns of these groups of primates. We examine the movement of a guild of frugivorous Malagasy primates (Eulemur rubriventer, Eulemur rufus and Varecia variegata) and predict its implication in shaping the spatial distribution of seeds. In order to understand the general pattern of their movement, a group of lemurs were continuously followed daily and their location every 15 minutes increment were recorded, for a total of nine groups per species. We combined gut retention time with movement data to predict seed shadows, and created a spatially explicit model of seed dispersal to predict the patterns and densities of dispersed seeds. With a majority of movement of long distance and duration during a day’s foraging, these lemur species may create scattered distribution of seeds and carry ingested seeds far from their source, predicting non-leptokurtic seed shadows. Different patterns of movement and range size result in different patterns of seed dispersal and distance from source trees.

This study was funded by Primate Conservation, Inc. PCI996, International Foundation for Science D/4985-1, Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation 5748-1, The Explorers Club Exploration Fund, Philanthropic Educational Organization, The Leakey Foundation, and Schlumberger Foundation.

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