Large frugivorous (animals that eat fruit) are essential for the seed dispersal of many plants. When frugivores become extinct in an area (often because habitats have become fragmented and patches are too small to support them), rapid evolutionary changes have been observed in seed size and plant dispersal is adversely effected.
Toucans (Ramphastos toco) inhabit forests and open areas, including small fragments. This is very important, because generally, fragmented areas don’t have large frugivores that can eat large seeds, reducing the dispersal effectiveness of several plant species. The toucan can act like a functional substitute of large frugivores that are absent from small patches, contributing for the movement of the seeds between patches. This project aims to understand how the movement ecology of Toucans is influenced by natural and anthropogenic spatial heterogeneity within fragmented landscapes.
Models based on mataki results will be used to verify the effectiveness of the Toucan as a seed disperser and as a functional substitute of the extinct fauna in fragmented areas.
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