Record Details

Tófoli, Cristina Farah
Frugivoria e dispersão de sementes por Tapirus terrestris (Linnaeus, 1758) na paisagem fragmentada do Pontal do Paranapanema, São Paulo
São Paulo
Universidade de São Paulo
M. Sc.
Tapir Tapirus terrestris frugivory seasonality forest fragmentation Atlantic Forest seed dispersal
The lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris (Linnaeus, 1758), the largest mammalian frugivore in Brazil, plays an important role in environmental dynamics and is particularly susceptible to habitat loss. The Atlantic Plateau Forest is the most threatened ecosystem of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest Domain. In the Pontal do Paranapanema region (western São Paulo State), this system is entirely composed of remnant forest fragments. Here, the tapir population may decrease to an unsustainable size in longterm and, consequently, the whole ecosystem may become compromised. Food habits are some of the most important data needed for species conservation and to understand the plant-animal interactions necessary to maintain forest dynamics. Thus, the objectives of this study were to investigate in tapirs: fruit species composition in the diet, seasonal variation of consumed items and the animals’ potential as seed dispersers. Due to the fragmented landscape in the study region and the possibility that such alteration affects the species’ diet, a subsequent objective was to verify if forest fragmentation influences fruit consumption. We analyzed 170 fecal and two stomach-content samples obtained from May 2003 to May 2005. These were collected from Morro do Diabo State Park (MDSP, 36000 ha), forest fragments from the Mico- Leão-Preto Ecological Station and other fragments in the Pontal do Paranapanema region. The tapir diet was composed of 65.5% fibers and leaves and 34.5% fruits and seeds. Tapirs consumed the same amount of fibers and fruits during the wet and dry seasons (t=1.431, p=0.16; t=0.15, p=0.88, respectively). Seed and fiber weight were not significantly different from fruits weight in MDSP (t=1.54, d.f.=129, p=0.13), although in forest patches a lower amount of fruits was consumed (t=-5.69, d.f.=41, p<0.001). Fifty-eight different items from 23 Families of plants were identified – among these, 22 fruits and eight Families were recorded for the first time in the species’ diet. Syagrus romanzoffiana (Cham.) Glassm, Psychotria spp. and Bromelia balansae (Mez, 1891) were the most consumed fruits, important during both seasons and in both MDSP and other forest fragments. The variables associated with the higher richness of fruits consumed were in the dry season and in MDSP (relative to rainy season and other forest fragments): dry=72.77; rainy=41.77; MDSP=79.8, other fragments=33). Observations of seeds found in feces indicated that mastication rarely contributes to seed damage. Germination experiments were undertaken with both whole and damaged seeds originated from feces, several of these remained viable. Suggesting that tapirs can act as seed dispersers. Tapirs consumed the highest richness of fruits during the dry season, likely associated with higher fruit production in the habitat during these months. Our data further suggests that forest fragmentation may be associated with the lower seed mass and species richness found in the tapir diet. Despite the diversity of fruit consumed by tapirs in the Pontal do Paranapanema, the long-term population stability in this region can be affected by habitat fragmentation.