Seed Dispersal and Regeneration in a Tanzanian Rainforest
thesisposted on 2014-02-24, 00:00 authored by Carrie E. Seltzer
This work is united by the themes of plant-animal interactions and the ways in which human activity can alter the interactions, with a focus on Afrotropical forests. The Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya are biodiversity hotspots with numerous species of plants and animals that occur nowhere else. Many of the plants rely on birds, bats, primates, rodents, or other mammals to disperse their seeds. One of the best-studied areas in Eastern Arc Mountains is the East Usambara Mountains in northeastern Tanzania. The first four chapters examine seed dispersal in and around the Amani Nature Reserve, which protects the largest area of submontane rainforest in the East Usambaras. Chapters one and four deal with seed dispersal by fruit bats in the family Pteropodidae. The first chapter draws attention to the importance of bats as seed dispersers by using observations from Amani and other published observations to point out the general neglect of bats as seed dispersers in Africa. The fourth chapter quantifies seed rain from bats in the context of comparisons between continuous forest and forest fragments. Chapters two and three examine how seed harvest by humans of a rodent-dispersed endemic canopy tree may affect dispersal and fate of the remaining seeds, and if enrichment planting of seeds could be a useful management tool. The last chapter takes a continental perspective on seed dispersal and frugivory in Africa by using thousands of published observations in an attempt to reveal patterns that may be more difficult to see at the local scale. These broad-scale patterns have potential to reveal trends in plant-animal coevolution, and may allow us to predict the ramifications of local extinction for other plant and animal groups.