Article I. Parameterization, development and ecological implications of a seed dispersal model by howler monkeys
Rivera Bialas, Rebecca Marie
Imbach Bartol, Pablo A.
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Seed dispersal distance values represent key information that should be incorporated to climate change species distribution modeling; however, this information is very difficult to obtain empirically. Howler monkeys are important and effective seed dispersers of tropical forests, but still much debate exists regarding their ability to produce long-distance seed dispersal events, and concerning their clustered patterns of seed depositions in latrines. Mechanistic models of seed dispersal that include theoretical concepts, empirical data and animal behavior and movement assumptions, can help address particular hypotheses and predict outcomes to help understand the role of howler monkeys for different scenarios of canopy tree species abundance, spatial distribution and seed sizes. Thus, we created a model based on parameters obtained from literature review and field observations, and our results suggest that distances of seed dispersal can be reached up to 550m from parental trees, and although LDD events may occur of up to 3 km, howler monkeys contribute mostly to local seed dispersal. Food availability modelled by fruiting tree abundance has an effect on seed dispersal distances and number of seed dispersal events; as clustered aggregations of reproductive trees also have an effect on seed deposition patterns. Defecations in non-latrine sites led to significant longest seed dispersal distances, and the model suggests seed size to have an effect on the proportion of seeds not defecated under latrines. Howler monkeys are important seed dispersers and even though their dispersal abilities have limitations, their contribution to forest structure, its regeneration and the regional survival of some trees species has been proven more than once. Our MonkeySeed model is a promising tool for the study and comprehension of seed dispersal distances through endozoochory, and whose results can be applied in further studies of canopy tree migration and species distributions throughout climate change scenarios.