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