Journal of Tropical Ecology



Short Communication

Frugivory and seed dispersal by Asian elephants, Elephas maximus, in a moist evergreen forest of Thailand


Shumpei Kitamura a1a2c1, Takakazu Yumoto a1a3, Pilai Poonswad a2 and Prawat Wohandee a4
a1 Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Kamitanakami-Hirano, Otsu 520–2113, Japan
a2 Thailand Hornbill Project, Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama 6 Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
a3 Research Institute of Humanity and Nature, 457-7 Motoyama, Kamigamo, Kita, Kyoto, 603–8047, Japan
a4 National Parks Division, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Phaholyothin Rd., Bangkok 10900, Thailand

Article author query
kitamura s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
yumoto t   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
poonswad p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
wohandee p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

The Asian elephant Elephas maximus is the only living species of the genus Elephas (Elephantidae) that evolved in Africa c. 5–6 million y ago and migrated into Eurasia (Sukumar 2003). The Asian elephant is one of the few remaining extant megafauna (Owen-Smith 1988) and has disappeared from c. 95% of its historical range (Sukumar 2006). Asian elephants eat fruit when it is available, defecating intact seeds, of which some later germinate in the dung (Lekagul & McNeely 1977, Ridley 1930). However, to date there has been no detailed study of frugivory and seed dispersal by Asian elephants (Corlett 1998). The only common feature of the fruit reported to be eaten by Asian elephants is their relatively large size, but there is no evidence that they are exclusive dispersers of any plant species (Corlett 1998), in contrast to the more frugivorous African forest elephants, Loxodonta africana cyclotis (Babweteera et al. 2007, Chapman et al. 1992, Cochrane 2003, Feer 1995).

(Accepted December 27 2006)


Key Words: Choerospondias axillaris; Diospyros glandulosa; faecal analysis; Garcinia cowa; germination trial; Irvingia malayana; Khao Yai National Park; Platymitra macrocarpa; Sandoricum koetjape; Spondias pinnata.

Correspondence:
c1 Corresponding author. Email: kshumpei@wg8.so-net.ne.jp