Interaction between frugivorous vertebrates and two plant species of the genus Spondias

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Abstract

Most plant species in the Atlantic Forest invest in zoochory as a dispersal mechanism and many depend on vertebrates to fulfill that role. The sizes of fruits and seeds are limiting factors in interactions between vertebrates and plant species. For example, plants that produce fruits with large seeds are more dependent on large frugivorous vertebrates for dispersal. We used camera traps to observe the interactions between frugivorous vertebrates and two large seed-producing plants of the genus Spondias in the Tableland of the Atlantic Forest of Espírito Santo, Brazil. Between 2015 and 2016 (622 camera days), we recorded 17 species of frugivorous vertebrates potentially ingesting fruit at the studied sites. Among the species recorded, only the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) was observed interacting directly with S. venulosa and S. macrocarpa. Our analysis indicates that the type of interaction depends on the body size of the vertebrate species, meaning that direct interaction with fruits of Spondias is commonly performed by medium and large vertebrates, such as spotted pacas, agoutis, and tapirs. Our study highlights the importance of these vertebrates in the forest remnants of the Atlantic Forest Tableland, such as the Linhares-Sooretama forest complex, for conservation and regeneration of plant communities.

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Figures

  • Study area with the locations of the camera traps (study sites) in the Biological Reserve of Sooretama, the Private Natural Heritage Reserve Recanto das Antas, and the Cupido and Refúgio Farm, in Espírito Santo state, Brazil.

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  • Species of vertebrates recorded by camera traps, their body mass, trophic guild, and the total number of independent records (IR) near monitored individuals of Spondias venulosa and Spondias macrocarpa. Monitoring was carried out in the Linhares-Sooretama forest complex, Espírito Santo state, Brazil, between April and August 2015 and from February to July 2016.

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  • Number of independent records of vertebrates for each type of plant-vertebrate interaction (WI: Without Interaction; AS: Active Search; DI: Direct Interaction), and the percentage of visits for each vertebrate species recorded near Spondias venulosa in the Linhares-Sooretama forest complex, Espírito Santo state, Brazil, between April and August 2015 and February to July 2016.

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  • Number of independent records of vertebrates for each type of plant-vertebrate interaction (WI: Without Interaction; AS: Active Search; DI: Direct Interaction), and the average number of visits for each vertebrate species recorded near Spondias macrocarpa in the Linhares-Sooretama forest complex, Espírito Santo state, Brazil, between April and August 2015 and February to July 2016.

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