Are the germination and vigor of Ficus and Cecropia seeds affected by the digestion process of a frugivorous bat?

Ademir Kleber Morbeck Oliveira, Frederico Tormin de Freitas Lemes, Atenise Pulchério Leite

Abstract


Taking into account the importance of the bats as seed dispersers, the aim of this study was to evaluate the seed consumption of two arboreal species (Cecropia pachystachya and Ficus gomelleira) by a species of frugivorous bat (Sturnira lilium). As hypothesis, seeds of Cecropia and Ficus ingested by Sturnira are favored in the germination process under laboratory conditions. Bats were captured with mist nets and their fecal excretion were collected and submitted to the following treatments: (1) digestive system Cecropia Group, (2) digestive system Ficus Group, (3) Cecropia control Group, and (4) Ficus control Group. The passage of seeds through Sturnira lilum digestive system reduced the percentage of seed germination (19% – C. pachystachya and 16% – F. gomelleira) and vigor in both plant species. This result indicates that loss of seed viability occurs during the process of ingestion and digestion of seeds, reducing the percentage of germination. However, most seeds cross the digestive system without damage, resulting in good germination rates, which may allow the dispersion and establishment of Cecropia and Ficus propagules in other areas.

Keywords: Bats, Chiroptera, endozoochory.


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