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The importance of black lemur, Eulemur macaco (Lemuridae, primates), for seed dispersal in Lokobe Forest, Madagascar

Birkinshaw, Christopher Robert; (1995) The importance of black lemur, Eulemur macaco (Lemuridae, primates), for seed dispersal in Lokobe Forest, Madagascar. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Seed dispersal in plants promotes their regeneration. The frugivore fauna of Madagascar is dominated by prosimians, but their importance for seed dispersal has never been investigated. This study considers the importance of the black lemur (Eulemur macaco) for seed dispersal of rain forest trees in Lokobe Forest, Madagascar. Black lemurs were observed eating the fruit of 70 species. Undamaged seeds of 57 of these were found in their droppings. The viability of samples of defecated seeds of 29 species was tested. Some seeds of all species germinated and most samples had a high percentage germination (mean = 73.1%). For the two main vegetation types in Lokobe Forest, 67.4% and 77.5% of trees in random samples were dispersed solely by black lemurs. The black lemurs at Lokobe were highly frugivorous, spending on average 78.0% of their monthly feeding time eating ripe fruit. Compared to populations of other frugivorous primates, black lemurs at Lokobe have high metabolic needs per hectare, suggesting that they eat a relatively large amount of fruit, and swallow a relatively large quantity of seeds, per unit area per year. The proportion of swallowed seeds that black lemurs deposit below their parent, fruiting conspecifics, other food sources and away from all food sources was estimated for 16 species whose fruits were frequently eaten during the day and four species whose fruits were frequently eaten at night. During the day, for all but two species, only a small proportion (<15%) of seeds were deposited below their parent or fruiting conspecifics, and for all species, a large proportion of seeds (>45%) were deposited away from food sources. However, at night, more seeds were deposited below their parent and fewer seeds deposited while travelling. Black lemurs generate heterogenous seed shadows. However, this is true of all endochores, and compared to some species, black lemur' activity is relatively dispersed, suggesting that they generate relatively homogenous seed shadows. Black lemurs usually deposited seeds away from the parent but within 150 m. Such dispersal distances are at the lower end of the range reported for tropical endochores. Many black lemur-dispersed species have fruit traits suggesting evolution for dispersal by medium- to large-sized prosimians i.e. a dull colour, thick husk and rather large size. The study concludes that black lemurs are important seed dispersers in Lokobe Forest.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The importance of black lemur, Eulemur macaco (Lemuridae, primates), for seed dispersal in Lokobe Forest, Madagascar
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences; Black lemur; Lokobe Forest; Madagascar; Seed dispersal
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106686
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