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SEED DISPERSAL RECOVERY FOLLOWING AGOUTI REINTRODUCTION
The success of animal reintroductions is usually evaluated using demographic criteria about the reintroduced population. However, reintroduction consequences on ecological processes and interactions are rarely assessed. Here, we used the interaction between reintroduced agoutis (Dasyprocta leporina) and a vulnerable tropical endemic tree (Joannesia princeps) to examine reintroduction effects on seed dispersal and seed establishment processes. To test the outcomes of this interaction we tracked seeds and surveyed seedlings of J. princeps in two adjacent forest areas with and without reintroduced agoutis. To determine seed fate and seed dispersal distance we used spool-and-line tracking method, together with camera traps to identify dispersers. Dispersal of J. princeps seeds only occurred where agoutis had been reintroduced; at the area without agoutis, seeds remained intact on the soil, even one year after the experiment’s beginning. At the reintroduction area, most seeds were preyed upon by agoutis but 7% remained dispersed and 2% germinated after ten months. Only those seeds buried by agoutis were able to germinate. Most dispersed seeds were taken 15 meters or farther from their origin and longer dispersal distances improved J. princeps fitness, since seedlings farther from a conspecific adult tree had greater survival probability. Agouti reintroduction restored a lost seed dispersal processes, exemplifying the value of trophic rewilding programs to re-establish ecological interactions.
reintroduction, restoration, scatter-hoarding, seed dispersal, plant-animal interaction, Dasyprocta leporina
Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza
Pedro Mittelman, Catharina Kreischer, Alexandra Pires, Fernando Antonio dos Santos Fernandez