The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

How primates move seeds: movement ecology and dispersal kernels in a Cercopithecoid community


Anthropology, University of Colorado Boulder

April 16, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Non-human primates are important endozoochorous seed dispersers in tropical forests. Seed dispersal is considered successful when seeds reach suitable germination and establishment sites, often away from parent trees and other conspecifics, although little is known how species-specific primate home range use, feeding ecology, and digestive physiology impact dispersal patterns. Here, we evaluate spatial patterns of seeds dispersed by five sympatric monkey species, including 3 cercopithecines (Cercopithecus ascanius, C. mitis, Lophocebus albigena) and 2 colobine species (Colobus guereza, Procolobus rufomitratus) at Kibale National Park, Uganda. 788 fecal samples (n = C. ascanius:158, C. mitis:188, L. albigena:187, C. guereza:42, P. rufomitratus:213), containing 665 non-fig and at least 1305 fig seeds of >20 species, were collected (1999-2002). Defecation locations were recorded and, using ArcGIS, assigned to 25x25 m cells by converting point to weighted (by seed quantity) raster datasets. We used Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) and Inverse Distance Weighted (IDW) interpolation methods to evaluate spatial distributions. Colobines, especially P. rufomitratus, dispersed few seeds to restricted areas; C. guereza dispersed more seeds to more locations. Overall, cercopithecines dispersed seeds in relatively denser clumps than colobines. Dispersal by C. ascanius and C. mitis was also more spatially continuous, although >50% of KDE-predicted cell values were still around zero. L. albigena seed dispersal was spatially coarser, and occurred at a large scale, spanning diverse habitats. Results demonstrate that movement ecology, digestive strategy, and feeding biology are important factors influencing seed dispersal kernels and have implications for interpreting differential impact of cercopithecoid species on forest regeneration.