The Role of Seed Size in Dispersal by a Scatter-hoarding Rodent

P.A. Jansen, M. Bartholomeus, F. Bongers, J.A. Elzinga, J. den Ouden, S.E. van Wieren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


A field experiment was conducted in the Nouragues Reserve, an undisturbed lowland rain forest in French Guiana, to test possible selective pressures towards higher seed value of Carapa procera by scatter-hoarders, and to quantify survival probabilities of seeds harvested and cached by red acouchies (Myoprocta exilis). The following hypotheses were also tested: (1) large seeds are more likely to be harvested by acouchies than small seeds; (2) large seeds are harvested by acouchies more quickly than small seeds; (3) large seeds harvested by acouchies have a higher probability than small seeds to be cached rather than eaten; (4) large seeds are cached further away and in lower densities than small seeds; (5) large seeds are recovered from caches and consumed at lower rates than small seeds; and (6) large seeds have higher survival probabilities than small seeds. All seeds were removed within 1.5 days, except for three seeds, which were removed 1-2 days later, thus hypothesis 1 was not confirmed. A total of 362 seeds were located after dispersal wherein 84% was cached and relatively few seeds (16%) were eaten, which confirms hypothesis 3. The distance at which acouchy caches were found immediately after dispersal was highly variable, both within and among plots. The nearest cache was found <1 m from the plot, from which the farthest was 124 m away. Cache distance increased with seed size, as predicted by hypothesis 4. There was also great variation in spatial isolation of acouchy caches, both within and among plots. Recovery of seeds did not necessarily lead to seed consumption since many seeds were reached or were not found again. Larger seeds had a higher probability of being recached rather than eaten while consumed seeds were found much closer to the cache site than recached seeds. These results support hypothesis 5. Seed mass strongly affected the fate pathways of seeds and how long seeds were kept in stock. The ultimate probability of survival increased with seed mass, as posited by hypothesis 6.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSeed Dispersal and Frugivory: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Subtitle of host publicationThird International Symposium-Workshop on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal, São Pedro, Brazil, 6-11 August 2000.
EditorsD.J. Levey, W.R. Silva, M. Galetti
Place of PublicationWallingford
PublisherCABI Publishing
ISBN (Print)9780851995250
Publication statusPublished - 2002


Dive into the research topics of 'The Role of Seed Size in Dispersal by a Scatter-hoarding Rodent'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this