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Predicting seed shadows in different environmental contexts: a modelling approach applied to an arboreal frugivore

Grant number: 20/11129-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal researcher:Laurence Marianne Vincianne Culot
Grantee:Eduardo Miguel Zanette Correia
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):21/10284-2 - Understanding drivers of primate movements in fragments: insights for an agent-based modelling simulation., BE.EP.MS


Endozoochorical seed dispersal maintains forest community structure and dynamics, thus being an underpinning process for tropical forest biodiversity. In this scenario, Neotropical primates play a major role by dispersing seeds throughout their home ranges. However, high levels of forest degradation and fragmentation have modified their habitat into fragments of distinct sizes, shapes, and resource distributions, leading to a possible alteration of their functional role as seed dispersers. Despite the huge increase of primate seed dispersal studies during the last decades, it is still unknown how the seed dispersal service will be affected by local forest fragment characteristics. More recently, the development of agent-based models (IBM) able to predict primate movement and the associated seed shadows opened new perspectives. The black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus or BLT) is a seed disperser, endemic to the Atlantic Forest whose habitat is among the most fragmented among Neotropical primate species. Here, we propose to use an IBM to test how the seed dispersal service by BLT, our model species, is affected by the environmental context. More specifically, we propose 1) to validate an already developed IBM to assess the spatial distribution of seeds (i.e. seed shadow) generated by BLT in three different environmental contexts (continuous forest, compact fragment and riparian forest); 2) to test the effect of fragment size, fragment shape, and resource distribution on the spatial distribution of seeds. We expect seed dispersal distances (SDD) to increase (1) as fragments size gets bigger as an indirect effect of larger home ranges and (2) as patches becomes more stretched (riparian forest context), and (3) seed shadows to become smaller (smaller seed dispersal area, shorter SDD) if resources are patchily distributed. (AU)

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