Small but Nice–Seed Dispersal by Tamarins Compared to Large Neotropical Primates

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2022-12-01

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Tamarins, small Neotropical primates of the genera Saguinus and Leontocebus, have a mainly frugivorous-faunivorous diet. While consuming the pulp of a high diversity of fruit species, they also swallow seeds and void them intact, thus acting as seed dispersers. Here we compare different aspects of the seed dispersal ecology of tamarins with that of large Neotropical primates from the genera Ateles (spider monkeys) and Lagothrix (woolly monkeys). Due to their small body size, tamarins disperse seeds of a smaller size range, fewer seeds per defecation, and seeds from a smaller number of different plant species per defecation compared to these atelines. We discuss whether tamarin seed dispersal is redundant or complementary to seed dispersal by atelines. On the level of plant species, our comparisons suggest that redundancy or complementarity depends on the plant species concerned. On the habitat level, seed dispersal by tamarins and large New World primates is probably complementary. Particularly, since tamarins are capable of persisting in disturbed forests and near human settlements, they are more likely to contribute to the natural regeneration of such areas than larger primates.

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Diversity, v. 14, n. 12, 2022.

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