Pattern and impact of hornbill seed dispersal at nest trees in a moist evergreen forest in Thailand
Following the entire process of frugivore seed dispersal, from intake of seeds to seed deposition, is a difficult task. One alternative is to monitor areas of heavy seed rain deposited by animals. We quantified the number of seeds deposited by hornbills and followed the fates of these seedlings for 3 y to evaluate the effectiveness of hornbill seed dispersal at nest trees, on the basis of seedling survival. For 14 mo, fallen fruits and seeds were collected in traps established around four nest trees of each of two hornbill species (Aceros undulatus and Anthracoceros albirostris) and the seedlings were monitored in adjacent quadrats. Seedfall and seedlings of species represented in hornbill diets occurred at significantly higher densities in the traps/quadrats in front of nest cavities than in other traps/quadrats. Fewer seedling species and individuals germinated under nest trees than expected from the composition of the seedfall. Our results suggest that the quality of hornbill seed dispersal might be poor at nest trees due to the highly concentrated seedfall, which results in high seed and seedling mortality. Although seed deposition at nest trees is a useful guide to hornbill diet during the breeding season, it is clearly not of benefit to the plants involved. However, the pattern and consequences of hornbill seed dispersal at nest sites is likely very different from that during the non-breeding season.(Accepted November 11 2003)
Key Words: Aceros undulatus; Anthracoceros albirostris; Cinnamomum subavenium; frugivory; Khao Yai National Park; seed accumulation; seed germination; seedling survivorship.
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