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Primate seed dispersal: Implications for conservation tactics

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  1. Abstract.
  2. Introduction.
  3. The plant/primate relationship.
  4. Intraspecies variation.
  5. Conservation & forest management.
  6. Discussion.
  7. Conclusion.

Many frugivorous primates act in an important ecosystem role as seed dispersers for local flora. The importance of this relationship is apparent through the realization that there is variation in the species of plant seeds dispersed by primates and non-primates, with primates often serving as the primary diffusion method for certain species. The further complexity of this interaction is recognizable in the variation of seeds dispersed among different primate species within the same territory, and in intraspecies variation in seed dispersal behavior based on seasonal or cyclical conditions. The intricate dynamic of plant/primate interface has significant implications for conservation programs, as it suggests that simple emphasis on preserving basic taxonomic diversity may be a less effective method of assuring sustainability than an emphasis on preserving existing interspecies interactions.

[...] Thus, among different primate species (even those in overlapping ranges), there is some specialization for specific plants, with distinctive behaviors acting as the route for seed dispersal. INTRASPECIES VARIATION Despite the deeper concentration on interspecies difference in seed dispersal in the literature, intraspecies variation remains an important aspect for consideration (White 1998). White (1998) notes that a form of seasonality is present in nearly all ecosystems (including non seasonal forests where fruiting synchronization and temporal rainfall distribution may affect behavioral cycles). [...]

[...] What Chapman calls cascading effects? of degradation (loss of forest through logging leads to reduced primate population, leads to further loss of forest through reduced seed dispersal) offers a sobering on the complexity of conservation (Chapman 127). Discussion Approaches to conservation necessarily raise the need for means of assessment. The effectiveness of distinctive strategies in the preservation of an ecosystem must be measured accurately if there is to be hope of sustaining threatened regions. Concentration on taxonomic categories in conservation efforts (often based on the level of extinction endangerment for a particular species), while common and attractive in its simplicity, may not be the most economical tactic under current conditions (Jernvall & Wright 1998). [...]

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