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Seed dispersal by proboscis monkeys: the case of Nauclea spp.

Thiry, Valentine, Bhasin, Oriana, Stark, Danica J., Beudels-Jamar, Roseline C., Vercauteren Drubbel, Régine, Nathan, Senthilvel K. S. S., Goossens, Benoit ORCID: and Vercauteren, Martine 2019. Seed dispersal by proboscis monkeys: the case of Nauclea spp. Primates 60 (5) , pp. 449-457. 10.1007/s10329-019-00736-x

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Frugivorous vertebrates such as primates are important dispersal agents in tropical forests, although the role of folivorous colobines is generally not considered. However, recent studies reported seed dispersal by endo- and epizoochory in colobine primates, including the proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), suggesting that the role colobines play in seed dispersal might have been underestimated. In the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, we investigated whether seeds were still able to germinate after being ingested by proboscis monkeys. Faecal samples (n = 201) from proboscis monkeys were collected between 2015 and 2017. Intact seeds belonging to eight plant species were found in 77% of the faecal samples. Nauclea spp. were the most abundant plant species, accounting for 98% of all intact seeds. This study is the first to conduct germination trials on seeds defecated by proboscis monkeys. Higher germination success was recorded in ingested Nauclea spp. seeds than in control seeds, from both ripe and unripe Nauclea orientalis fruits (P < 0.001). Therefore, we suggest that proboscis monkeys play a role in seed dispersal by enhancing the germination success of defecated seeds for at least some plant species. Similar to other colobines, although proboscis monkeys may provide a lower contribution to seed dispersal (low seed diversity over short distances) than other sympatric frugivores, this study emphasises that proboscis monkeys do contribute to the dispersal of intact seeds, such as Nauclea spp., in potentially suitable riverine habitats.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
ISSN: 0032-8332
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 August 2019
Date of Acceptance: 18 July 2019
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2022 21:29

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