Availability of large seed-dispersers for restoration of degraded tropical forest

Jeremy Lindsell, David Lee, Victoria Powell, Elva Gemita

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Abstract

An estimated 63% of Southeast Asian forests are classed as disturbed and secondary as a result of human activity. Many of these forests remain important for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services so there is much interest in their capacity for restoration. The role of larger animals as seed dispersers in natural regeneration is well-attested since they are often the only agent by which large-seeded trees can effectively disperse. This is especially important for late successional shade-tolerant species which might otherwise be excluded from disturbed sites. However, many larger animals are sensitive to habitat degradation so may be lost from the very areas that require them. We investigated the persistence of a suite of large mammals that are known seed-dispersers and are also threatened species, in a degraded site in lowland south-central Sumatra. We used camera traps and field observations to relate their distributions to prevailing vegetation conditions. Although most species were more frequently detected in the more intact areas, most were able to occupy habitats with high levels of disturbance and population densities were relatively high. It is clear that severe habitat degradation does not necessarily lead to the immediate loss of large-bodied seed dispersers, so ensuring adequate protection for these species from external threats, such as hunting, must be built into management plans for restoration concessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalTropical Conservation Science
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • seed dispersal
  • restoration
  • Southeast Asia
  • degraded forest
  • camera-trap

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