Telemetric tracking of scatterhoarding and seed fate in a Central African forest

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© 2016 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation In seed predation studies, removal of a seed is only the first step of a dynamic process that may result in dispersal rather than seed death. This process, termed seed fate, has received little attention in African forests, particularly in Central Africa. We experimentally assessed the initial steps of seed fate for two tree species—the large-seeded Pentaclethra macrophylla and the relatively small-seeded Gambeya lacourtiana—in northeastern Gabon. Specifically, we evaluated whether seed size and seed consumer identity are important determinants of seed fate. We established experimental stations under conspecific fruiting trees, each comprising three seeds fitted with telemetric thread tags to facilitate their recovery, and a motion-sensitive camera to identify visiting mammals. In total, animals removed 76 tagged seeds from experimental stations. Small Murid rats and mice primarily removed small Gambeya seeds, whereas large-bodied rodents and mandrills primarily removed large Pentaclethra seeds. Gambeya seeds were carried shorter distances than Pentaclethra seeds and were less likely to be cached. The two large-bodied rodents handled seeds differently: Cricetomys emini larderhoarded nearly all (N = 15 of 16) encountered Pentaclethra seeds deep in burrows, while Atherurus africanus cached all (N = 5 of 5) encountered Pentaclethra seeds singly under 1–3 cm of leaf litter and soil, at an average distance of 24.2 m and a maximum distance of 46.3 m from experimental stations. This study supports the hypothesis that seed fate varies based on seed size and seed consumer identity, and represents the first telemetric experimental evidence of larderhoarding and scatterhoarding in the region.






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Rosin, Cooper, and John R Poulsen (2017). Telemetric tracking of scatterhoarding and seed fate in a Central African forest. Biotropica, 49(2). pp. 170–176. 10.1111/btp.12410 Retrieved from

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