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The Asian elephant is amongst the top three frugivores of two tree species with easily edible fruit

Sekar, Nitin and Sukumar, Raman (2015) The Asian elephant is amongst the top three frugivores of two tree species with easily edible fruit. In: JOURNAL OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY, 31 (5). pp. 385-394.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266467415000346

Abstract

Large animal species are prone to local extirpation, but ecologists cannot yet predict how the loss of megaherbivores affects ecosystem processes such as seed dispersal. Few studies have compared the quantity and quality of seed dispersal by megaherbivores versus alternative frugivores in the wild, particularly for plant species with fruit easily consumed by many frugivorous species. In a disturbed tropical moist forest in India, we examine whether megaherbivores are a major frugivore of two tree species with easily edible, mammal-dispersed fruit. We quantify the relative fruit removal rates of Artocarpus chaplasha and Careya arborea, by the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and alternative dispersers. Through focal watches and camera trapping, we found the elephant to be amongst the top three frugivores for each tree species. Furthermore, seed transects under A. chaplasha show that arboreal frugivores discard seeds only a short distance from the parental tree, underscoring the elephant's role as a long-distance disperser. Our data provide unprecedented support for an old notion: megaherbivores may be key dispersers for a broad set of mammal-dispersed fruiting species, and not just fruit inaccessible to smaller frugivores. As such, the elephant may be particularly important for the functional ecology of the disturbed forests it still inhabits across tropical Asia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 32 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY 10013-2473 USA
Keywords: Artocarpus chaplasha; Buxa Tiger Reserve; Careya arborea; domestic bovids; frugivory; Elephas maximus; functional ecology; Macaca mulatta; rhesus macaques
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2015 05:09
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2015 05:09
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/52728

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