Record Details

Tobler, M. W.;Janovec, J. P.;Cornejo, F.
Frugivory and Seed Dispersal by the Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris in the Peruvian Amazon
Journal Article
The lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris is the largest herbivore in the Neotropics and feeds on a large quantity of fruits, often ingesting the seeds and defecating them intact. Seed dispersal by the lowland tapir in the southwestern Amazon was studied by examining seeds from 135 dung samples collected between 2005 and 2007. Seeds of a total of 122 plant species were identified, representing 68 genera and 33 families. The species accumulation curve showed that more species can be expected with further sampling. Many species (45%) were only encountered once, and only 10 percent of all species were found in >10 samples, indicating that the lowland tapir is an opportunistic forager. Seed diversity showed a clear seasonal pattern and was highly correlated with fruit availability. Seed diameter ranged from <1 to 25 mm with 81 percent <10 mm diam. The size distribution of seeds found in lowland tapir dung generally followed that of seeds found in the forest, but had a lower proportion of seeds in the smallest size class (<2.5 mm) and a larger proportion found in the largest size class (20-25 mm). The diversity of seeds encountered in dung of the lowland tapir in this study was much higher than in previous studies. We conclude that the lowland tapir is a potential disperser for a large number of plant species, including many that previously have been thought to be dispersed only by large primates.