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Postdispersal Fruit and Seed Removal by the Crab Gecarcinus lateralis in a Coastal Forest in Veracruz, Mexico

Capistrán‐Barradas, Ascención, Moreno‐Casasola, Patricia, Defeo, Omar
Biotropica 2006 v.38 no.2 pp. 203-209
crabs, feeding behavior, foraging, fruits (plant anatomy), seed predation, seed dispersal, environmental factors, age of soil, topography, vegetation cover, coastal forests, Mexico
In the coastal semideciduous forest of La Mancha, Veracruz (Mexico), we evaluated the removal of fallen fruits and seeds of different species by the land crab Gecarcinus lateralis under different environmental conditions (age soil of forest stand, topography, and cover). Crabs removed 67 percent of the propagules in the experiments (3106 of a total of 4608), and seeds were removed in greater quantities (61.1%) than fruits (38.9%). Fruits of Maclura tinctoria (Moraceae) and Ehretia tinifolia (Boraginacea) and seeds of E. tinifolia were the most affected species. Crabs removed higher quantities of fruits in old‐soil forest and in the understory than in young‐soil forest and gaps. In experiments with seeds, only for the older forest, the crabs removed more seeds in slopes and peaks than in valleys and in the understory than gaps, whereas in the young‐soil forest, the differences were not significant. Our results suggest that G. lateralis, like Gecarcoidea natalis and Gecarcinus quadratus, is an efficient propagule predator and can exert pressure in the establishment of plant species, but in La Mancha, this also depends on site conditions and identity of the species.