Journal of Tropical Ecology

Research Article

Removal of seeds of Carapa procera (Meliaceae) by rodents and their fate in rainforest in French Guiana

Pierre-Michel Forgeta1

a1 Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Laboratoire d'Écologie Générate, CNRS URA 1183, 4 Avenue du Petit Chateau, F-91800 Brunoy, France E-mail: forget@mnhn.fr

ABSTRACT

Experiments were performed to investigate monthly variations in seed fate of Carapa procera (Meliaceae), a rodent-dispersed subcanopy tree species in French Guiana. A total of 600 thread-marked seeds were placed on the ground in mature forest under 20 adult trees during different months (March, April and May 1991) of the species' fruiting season. In 1991 the seed crop reached 1536 seeds in the study area, with a majority of seeds being produced in March and May. On average, seed removal rate steadily increased from March (23%) to May (96%). Of the seeds removed, the proportion eached almost doubled between March (28%)-April (25%) and May (48%), whereas the proportion eaten (gnawed) steadily declined between March (43%) and May (9%). Approximately 75–100% seed removal was therefore associated with intense scatterhoarding and low seed predation, especially in May. Greater seed dispersal rates occurred during the late wet season when fruit diversity decreased but when overall fruit biomass peaked because of fruiting occurrence of large-seeded species. The seasonal hoarding behaviour of rodents is discussed.

(Accepted January 22 1996)