International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 170–193 | Cite as

Frugivory and Seed Dispersal by Northern Pigtailed Macaques (Macaca leonina), in Thailand

  • Aurélie Albert
  • Alain Hambuckers
  • Laurence Culot
  • Tommaso Savini
  • Marie-Claude Huynen


Tropical rain forest conservation requires a good understanding of plant–animal interactions. Seed dispersal provides a means for plant seeds to escape competition and density-dependent seed predators and pathogens and to colonize new habitats. This makes the role and effectiveness of frugivorous species in the seed dispersal process an important topic. Northern pigtailed macaques (Macaca leonina) may be effective seed dispersers because they have a diverse diet and process seeds in several ways (swallowing, spitting out, or dropping them). To investigate the seed dispersal effectiveness of a habituated group of pigtailed macaques in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, we examined seed dispersal quantity (number of fruit species eaten, proportion in the diet, number of feces containing seeds, and number of seeds processed) and quality (processing methods used, seed viability and germination success, habitat type and distance from parent tree for the deposited seeds, and dispersal patterns) via focal and scan sampling, seed collection, and germination tests. We found thousands of seeds per feces, including seeds up to 58 mm in length and from 88 fruit species. Importantly, the macaques dispersed seeds from primary to secondary forests, via swallowing, spitting, and dropping. Of 21 species, the effect of swallowing and spitting was positive for two species (i.e., processed seeds had a higher % germination and % viability than control seeds), neutral for 13 species (no difference in % germination or viability), and negative (processed seeds had lower % germination and viability) for five species. For the final species, the effect was neutral for spat-out seeds but negative for swallowed seeds. We conclude that macaques are effective seed dispersers in both quantitative and qualitative terms and that they are of potential importance for tropical rain forest regeneration.


Germination Khao Yai National Park Seed spitting Seed swallowing Tropical rain forest 



We thank the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the National Research Council of Thailand for granting research permission and the superintendent of Khao Yai National Park for his hospitality. We thank Warren Y. Brockelman for sharing with us botanical information and data from his permanent plot. We thank Alice Latinne for her valuable advice and Lee Olsen and Julie Koldewyn for editing the English. We are grateful to Joanna Setchell, Editor-in-Chief; Oliver Schülke, Associate Editor; and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was conducted with the financial support from the University of Liège, Belgium (A. Albert), and of the Biodiversity Research and Training Program, Thailand (grant nos. BRT R_349007 and BRT R_351005) (T. Savini and M-C. Huynen).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aurélie Albert
    • 1
  • Alain Hambuckers
    • 1
  • Laurence Culot
    • 2
  • Tommaso Savini
    • 3
  • Marie-Claude Huynen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Ecology and Evolution, Behavioral Biology Unit, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratório de Biología da Conservação, Departamento de EcologíaUniversidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)Rio ClaroBrazil
  3. 3.Conservation Ecology Program, School of Bioresources and TechnologyKing Mongkut’s University of Technology ThonburiBangkokThailand

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