Animals are fundamental for seed dispersal and therefore for plant reproduction, and this is especially true for insects and crawling animals that contribute to the dispersion with their feces. A new study also puts monkeys in this category of animals.
The researchers of the Deutsche Primatenzentrum (DPZ), a German institute, in collaboration with the Estadual Paulista University, Brazil, and with the University of Marburg, have in fact discovered that the monkeys of the species Leontocebus nigrifrons, also called black-faced tamarins, and of the species Saguinus mystax, also called tamarins with mustaches or whiskered tamarins, play a fundamental role in dispersing the seeds of some plants of the Peruvian Amazon forest.
Specifically, the researchers found that the seeds of the Parkia panurensis tree are dispersed exclusively by these monkeys. This feature is so important that these monkeys can be considered responsible for the regeneration of entire plots of land.
The researchers, in fact, analyzed these effects in an area that had been cleared and used as pasture for buffaloes between 1990 and 2000. After being abandoned, the rainforest then slowly developed again. During the course of the study, which lasted several years, the scientists noticed that whiskered and black-faced tamarins fed mainly on fruit produced by these trees and then dispersed the seeds they ingested through their feces.
In fact, analyzing the feces of the monkeys, the researchers discovered that the seeds inside them came from the intact forest areas frequented by monkeys.
“Tamarins have been shown to contribute to the natural regeneration of areas destroyed by humans,” says Eckhard W. Heymann, one of the researchers involved in the study published in Scientific Reports.
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