Hunting increases dispersal limitation in the tree Carapa procera, a nontimber forest product

P.M. Forget, P.A. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


The sustainability of seed extraction from natural populations has been questioned recently. Increased recruitment failure under intense seed harvesting suggests that seed extraction intensifies source limitation. Nevertheless, areas where more seeds are collected tend to also have more intense hunting of seed-dispersing animals. We studied whether such hunting, by limiting disperser activity, could cause quantitative dispersal limitation, especially for large crops and for crops in years of high seed abundance. In each of four Carapa procera (Meliaceae) populations in French Guiana and Surinam, two with hunting and two without, we compared seed fate for individual trees varying in crop size in years of high and low population-level seed abundance. Carapa seeds are a nontimber forest product and depend on dispersal by scatter-hoarding rodents for survival and seedling establishment. Hunting negatively affected the proportion of seeds dispersed and caused greater numbers of seeds to germinate or be infested by moths below parent trees, where they would likely die. Hunting of seed-dispersing animals disproportionally affected large seed crops, but we found no additional effect of population-level seed abundance on dispersal rates. Consistently lower rates of seed dispersal, especially for large seed crops, may translate to lower levels of seedling recruitment under hunting. Our results therefore suggest that the subsistence hunting that usually accompanies seed collection is at the cost of seed dispersal and may contribute to recruitment failure of these nontimber forest products. Seed extraction from natural populations may affect seedling recruitment less if accompanied by measures adequately incorporating and protecting seed dispersers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-113
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • orange-rumped agouti
  • seed dispersal
  • tropical forest
  • french-guiana
  • rain-forest
  • bertholletia-excelsa
  • dasyprocta-leporina
  • amazonian forests
  • recruitment
  • fate


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