Seed dispersal by primates, dung beetles and other mammals and tropical rain forest regeneration


Estación de Biología "Los Tuxtlas", Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

·        Primates such as howler and spider monkeys participate in important ways in ecosystem's dynamics. As consumers of plant parts, they recycle matter, nutrients and energy in the ecosystems and participate importantly, with other primary consumers,in the process of primary productivity of the forest. For example, the harvesting of leaves by howler monkey may have a prunning effect, accelarating production of folliage in the canopy.


·        As consumers of fruit, primates and other arboreal mammals, bats and birds may act as seed dispersal agents for selected coteries of tree species contributing to the natural process of rain forest regeneration. Aspects of quality and quantitity in seed dispersal by these fauna are investigated, together with the phenological behavior of fleshy-fruit producing tree species. Fruit productivity measures in the forest provide complimentary data on the amount of potential food available to fruit-eating vertebrates in the canopy and the seasonality of fruit availability.

The role of dung-beetles as secondary seed dispersal agents is being investigated as these beetles tend to bury many of the seeds dispersed by howler monkeys. Such burial allows many of these seeds to escape postdispersal predation by seed predators (e.g. small rodents). To what extent the primate-plant-dung beetle interface has been affected by the fragmentation and isolation of the forest as a result of human activity, is also an important question in our research.

In general, the research projects on seed dispersal are aimed at

  • investigating the role of mammals (primates and bats) as seed dispersal agents for a broad spectrum of plant species
  • the consequences of such interactions in the reproductive strategy of the plants and in the foraging strategies of the frugivores
  • the impact of such interactions in the natural process of rain forest regeneration
  • assessing the impact of rain forest fragmentation by human activity on the stability of the interaction among frugivores and plants and its effect on the natural process of forest restoration



For publications of results of this line of research check the corresponding link in the main page


For more information on this line of research and the activities of our laboratory please write to [email protected]

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Copyright @ 2006 Alejandro Estrada