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Ants Rearrange the Vertebrate‐Generated Seed Shadow of a Neotropical Fig Tree

Roberts, J. Timmons, Heithaus, E. Raymond
Ecology 1986 v.67 no.4 pp. 1046-1051
Atta cephalotes, Chiroptera, Ficus, Pheidole, birds, feces, figs, forests, fruiting, monkeys, national parks, rodents, seeds, trees, tropics, Costa Rica
We studied the secondary movements of Ficus hondurensis seeds after their initial dispersal by vertebrates in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica. Common vertebrate consumers of figs were various birds, bats, coatis, white—faced monkeys, and ctenosaurs. The ants Pheidole radoszkowskii, P. fallax, and Atta cephalotes were common secondary disperers. Ants removed 25.2 to 97.7% of the seeds placed randomly in 275 groups (N = 13 700 seeds). Rodents did not attack these seeds. Ants removed seeds from vertebrate feces, but were more likely to remove seeds from fruit fragments. Ants found and depleted seed groups more rapidly in a late—successional forest site than under the fruiting tree. Some fig seeds that were discarded by ants germinated, indicating that such secondary movements of seeds may be beneficial to the parent plants.