In Neotropical forests the great majority of woody species depend on vertebrate for seed dispersal. The effectiveness of a disperser is defined by the contribution to plant fitness and is influenced by the number of seeds removed, distance traveled from the source, germination effects and post dispersal seed fate. Post-dispersal effects at the deposition site, such as predation, removal rates and the chances of seedling survival and recruitment, define the real role played by a vertebrate as a disperser. Primate seed dispersal has been increasingly recognized as having a potential impact on regeneration of the Atlantic Forest and community dynamics, and the service offered varies according to functional groups in terms of primate feeding guild. However, documenting primates as effective ecosystem engineers via seed dispersal remains difficult because of knowledge gaps on seed fate after primary dispersal. Thus, we aim to measure the individual contribution of four primate species endemic to the Atlantic Forest - Brachyteles arachnoides, Leontopithecus chrysopygus, Alouatta guariba clamitans and Sapajus nigritus - to the dispersal of a certain plant species. We aim to firstly evaluate the effects of primate feeding guilds on post-dispersal seed fate, taking the influence of the deposition site into account. We will carry out experimental designs in Carlos Botelho State Park to test whether the influence of the seed deposition patterns, the composition and the amount of feces affect interactions with seed predators and secondary dispersers, also considering the negative effect of the conspecific. The conclusions will allow us to guide future directions of conservation efforts based on ecosystem services offered by primates in terms of seed dispersal.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: