Relations between fruits and disperser assemblages in a Malagasy littoral forest: a community-level approach
Interactions among fleshy fruits and frugivore assemblages are presented from a 1-y study in the littoral forest of Sainte Luce, south-eastern Madagascar. This community-level approach allowed us to determine food selection by all consumer species and to evaluate the role different frugivores play in seed dispersal and predation. For this, interactions between 136 consumed fruit species and 13 frugivorous species were studied. Fruit and seed size were the most important physical factors determining food selection of all consumer species. Nutritionally birds favoured and mammals avoided lipid-rich fruits. For Cheirogaleus spp., that go into torpor, there was a trend to select sugar-rich fruit pulp. However, for numerous fruit traits the consumer species had no clear feeding preferences and they seemed to be quite flexible, eating whatever was available. This might be related to unpredictable fruit availability and low fruit productivity in the littoral forest, which may also partially explain the low number of frugivores present. Nevertheless frugivores have different impacts on seed dispersal. Eulemur fulvus collaris is particularly important for the dispersal of large-seeded species, while frugivorous birds and flying foxes ensure plant regeneration between and outside forest fragments. In terms of conservation, heterogeneous seed transport is particularly important for this severely degraded littoral forest.(Accepted February 4 2004)
Key Words: Alectroenas madagascariensis; Cheirogaleus; Coracopsis nigra; Eulemur fulvus collaris; frugivory; Hypsipetes madagascariensis; Microcebus rufus; Pteropus rufus; rodents; seed dispersal.
c1 Corresponding author. Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Koningin Astridplein 26, B-2018 Antwerp, Belgium. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org