Journal of Tropical Ecology

Research Article

Importance of the lilac-crowned parrot in pre-dispersal seed predation of Astronium graveolens in a Mexican tropical dry forest

Emma Ines Villaseñor-Sáncheza1, Rodolfo Dirzoa2 and Katherine Rentona3 c1

a1 Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Estación de Biología Chamela, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México

a2 Stanford University, Department of Biology, Stanford, CA 94305

a3 Estación de Biología Chamela (IB-UNAM), Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 21, Melaque, Jalisco 48980, México

Abstract:

Parrots represent a large biomass of canopy granivores in tropical forests, and may be effective pre-dispersal seed predators. We evaluated the importance of the lilac-crowned parrot (Amazona finschi) as a pre-dispersal seed predator of Astronium graveolens (Anacardiaceae) in tropical dry forest. Seeds were collected in fruit-traps beneath 22 trees to compare pre-dispersal seed predation by parrots and insects, and determine whether intensity of seed predation was related to fruit-crop size or the aggregation of fruiting conspecifics around focal trees. Ground-level exclosures were established to compare post-dispersal seed predation by vertebrates and insects. The lilac-crowned parrot predated 43% of seeds pre-dispersal, while insects predated only 1.3%. Intensity of pre-dispersal seed predation by parrots was significantly greater in high-fruiting 0.79-ha resource patches, and was not related to fruit abundance of the focal tree. Foraging parrots also discarded immature fruits below the tree, causing a total 56% pre-dispersal loss of seed production, which was greater than post-dispersal removal by vertebrates, mainly rodents (51%) or insects (36%). Our results show that parrots play an important role as pre-dispersal seed predators in tropical dry forests. The reduction of parrot populations in tropical forests may have consequences for seed predation, affecting recruitment patterns of canopy trees.

(Accepted September 21 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author. Email: krenton@ibiologia.unam.mx, karenton@yahoo.co.uk