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Plant Ecology

, Volume 219, Issue 4, pp 417–427 | Cite as

First evidence of epizoochorous seed dispersal by golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in temperate forest

  • Yuan Chen
  • Haochun Chen
  • Youji Zhang
  • Hui Yao
  • Wanji Yang
  • Yucheng Zhao
  • Xiangdong Ruan
  • Zuofu Xiang
Article

Abstract

Although many primates are identified as effective endozoochorous seed dispersers in forest ecosystems, epizoochorous seed dispersal by primates has generally been overlooked. In this study, we report epizoochorous seed dispersal in a group of free-ranging golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) residing in the temperate forests of central China by identifying seeds carried by 12 well-habituated individuals. The results showed a total of 1920 seeds (five families, seven genera) belonging to eight plant species attached to the monkeys’ fur; the three most abundant species were Geum aleppicum (54% of the total), Torilis japonica (17%), and Agrimonia pilosa (14%). The majority of seeds (95.3%) that attached to the monkeys’ fur had special morphologies such as hairs, hooks, or awns. We also found that the quantity of seeds attached to the fur was not significantly different by age-sex class, even though adult males have very long fur. Our study provides the first empirical evidence of epizoochorous seed dispersal by primates and suggests the role of primates in seed dispersal may be greater than previously assumed.

Keywords

External dispersal Snub-nosed monkey Seed traits Individual difference Temperate forest Plant recruitment 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Key Technology R & D Program of China (2013BAD03-02), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31670397). We thank the staff at the administrative bureau of Shennongjia National Park in Hubei province for their support. We are grateful to Ms. Fan Zhang and Mr. Jinlong Luo for assistance with seed identification. We also thank Dr. Cheng Guo and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

The research adhered to the American Society of Primatologists’ principles for the ethical treatment of primates. Prior to conducting this study, approval was obtained from Shennongjia National Park (snp-081201) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Central South University of Forestry and Technology (csuft-090120).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation BiologyCentral South University of Forestry and TechnologyChangshaChina
  2. 2.Shennongjia National ParkHubeiChina
  3. 3.National Forest Inventory and Design InstituteBeijingChina

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