Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/19674
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Forest Elephants: Tree Planters of the Congo
Authors: Blake, Stephen
Deem, Sharon Lynn
Mossimbo, Eric
Maisels, Fiona
Walsh, Peter
Contact Email: boo.maisels@stir.ac.uk
Keywords: aggregation
biodiversity
community structure
extinction
Janzen-Connell effects
Loxodonta africana cyclotis
seed dispersal
tropical forest
Issue Date: Jul-2009
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Citation: Blake S, Deem SL, Mossimbo E, Maisels F & Walsh P (2009) Forest Elephants: Tree Planters of the Congo, Biotropica, 41 (4), pp. 459-468.
Abstract: The abundance of large vertebrates is rapidly declining, particularly in the tropics where over-hunting has left many forests structurally intact but devoid of large animals. An urgent question then, is whether these ‘empty' forests can sustain their biodiversity without large vertebrates. Here we examine the role of forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) seed dispersal in maintaining the community structure of trees in the Ndoki Forest, northern Congo. Analysis of 855 elephant dung piles suggested that forest elephants disperse more intact seeds than any other species or genus of large vertebrate in African forests, while GPS telemetry data showed that forest elephants regularly disperse seeds over unprecedented distances compared to other dispersers. Our analysis of the spatial distribution of trees from a sample of 5667 individuals showed that dispersal mechanism was tightly correlated with the scale of spatial aggregation. Increasing amounts of elephant seed dispersal was associated with decreasing aggregation. At distances ofo200 m, trees whose seeds are dispersed only by elephants were less aggregated than the random expectation, suggesting Janzen-Connell effects on seed/seedling mortality. At the landscape scale, seed dispersal mode predicted the rate at which local tree community similarity decayed in space. Our results suggest that the loss of forest elephants (and other large-bodied dispersers) may lead to a wave of recruitment failure among animal-dispersed tree species, and favor regeneration of the species-poor abiotically dispersed guild of trees.
Type: Journal Article
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/19674
DOI Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7429.2009.00512.x
Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.
Affiliation: Wildlife Conservation Society (North America Program)
Wildlife Conservation Society (North America Program)
Wildlife Conservation Society (North America Program)
Wildlife Conservation Society (Africa Program)
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

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