Rainforest Restoration and Seed Dispersal

South America (Ecuador)
Africa (Cameroon)

These long-term studies examine the role of birds and primates as seed dispersers in the maintenance of tree diversity in West African and Neotropical rainforests. In West Africa, we are using data gathered at a remote field station (maintained by CTR and ECOFAC) in the Dja Reserve, (a UN designated Biosphere Reserve and West Africa' s largest). CTR members have learned that just two species of Hornbills disperse the seeds of over 25% of the more than 300 tree species found in the reserve. Given the alarming population declines of other seed dispersers, particularly primates and elephant, this work is of enormous importance to conservation planning.

In Ecuador, we are studying the Long-wattled Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus penduliger) northwestern Chocó rainforests and Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) in the Amazon basin. Both species are key dispersers of seeds within their home ranges, yet the role each plays in regeneration of degraded habitat and maintenance of primary forests are poorly known. These projects employ radio telemetry and detailed phenological data to quantify the basic biology of these little-known yet charismatic and ecologically vital species. Additionally, rainforest restoration projects using an experimental approach to restoration are currently being developed in Ecuador in conjunction with local and international NGOs. CTR is also developing proposals to expand this work to include comparative research in Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Gabon.

Current Projects

Related Publications

Anthony, N. M.; Atteke, C.; Bruford, M. W.; Dallmeier, F.; Freedman, A.; Hardy, O.; Ibrahim, B.; Jeffery, K. J.; Johnson, M.; Lahm, S. A.; Lepengue, N.; Lowenstein, J. H.; Maisels, F.; Mboumba, J.; Mickala, P.; Morgan, K.; Ntie, S.; Smith, T. B.; Sullivan, J. P.; Verheyen, E.; Gonder, M. K. Evolution and conservation of Central African biodiversity: priorities for future research and education in the Congo Basin and Gulf of Guinea. Biotropica 2014, 47 (1), 6–17; DOI 10.1111/btp.12188. PDF online.
Lamperti, A. M.; French, A. R.; Dierenfeld, E. S.; Fogiel, M. K.; Whitney, K. D.; Stauffer, D. J.; Stouffer, K. M.; Hardesty, B. D.; Clark, C. J.; Poulsen, J. R.; Wang, B.; Smith, T. B.; Parker, V. T. Diet selection is related to breeding status in two frugivorous hornbill species of Central Africa. Journal of Tropical Ecology 2014, 30, 273–290; DOI 10.1017/S0266467414000236. online.
Chasar, A.; Harrigan, R. J.; Holbrook, K. M.; Dietsch, T. V.; Fuller, T. L.; Wikelski, M.; Smith, T. B. Spatial and temporal patterns of frugivorous hornbill movements in Central Africa and their implications for rain forest conservation. Biotropica 2014, 46, 763–770; DOI 10.1111/btp.12160. online.
Duraes, R.; Carrasco, L.; Smith, T. B.; Karubian, J. Effects of forest disturbance and habitat loss on avian communities in a Neotropical biodiversity hotspot. Biological Conservation 2013, 166, 203–211; DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.007. PDF online.
Karubian, J.; Duraes, R.; Storey, J. L.; Smith, T. B. Mating behavior drives seed dispersal by the Long-wattled Umbrellabird Cephalopterus penduliger. Biotropica 2012, 44 (5), 689–698. online.
Thomassen, H. A.; Fuller, T.; Buermann, W.; Milá, B.; Kieswetter, C.; Jarrín-V, P.; Cameron, S. E.; Mason, E.; Schweizer, R.; Schlunegger, J.; Chan, J.; Wang, O.; Peralvo, M.; Schneider, C. J.; Graham, C. H.; Pollinger, J. P.; Saatchi, S.; Wayne, R. K.; Smith, T. B. Mapping evolutionary process: a multi-taxa approach to conservation prioritization. Evolutionary Applications 2011, 4, 397–413. PDF online.
Karubian, J.; Sork, V. L.; Roorda, T.; Durães, R.; Smith, T. B. Destination-based seed dispersal homogenizes genetic structure of a tropical palm. Molecular Ecology 2010, 19 (8), 1728–1745; DOI 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04600.x. PDF online.
Wang, B. C.; Sork, V. L.; Leong, M. T.; Smith, T. B. Hunting of mammals reduced seed removal and dispersal of the Afrotropical tree, Antrocaryon klaineanum (Anacardiaceae). Biotropica 2007, 39, 340–347. PDF online.
French, A.; Smith, T. B. Importance of body size in determining dominance hierarchies among diverse tropical frugivores. Biotropic 2005, 37, 95–100. PDF online.
Stauffer, D.; Smith, T. B. Breeding and nest site characteristics of the Black-casqued Ceratogymna atrata and White-thighed Ceratogymna cylindricus Hornbill in south-central Cameroon. Ostrich 2004, 75, 79–88. PDF online.
Holbrook, K. M.; Smith, T. B.; Hardesty, B. D. Long-distance movements of frugivorous rainforest hornbills. Ecography 2002, 25, 745–749. PDF online.
Poulsen, J. R.; Clark, C. J.; Conner, E. F.; Smith, T. B. Differential resource use by primates and hornbills: implications for seed dispersal. Ecology 2002, 83, 228–240. PDF online.
Wang, B. C.; Smith, T. B. Closing the seed dispersal loop. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 2002, 17, 379–386. PDF online.
Poulsen, J. R.; Clark, C. J.; Smith, T. B. Seed dispersal by a primate community in the Dja Reserve, Cameroon. Journal of Tropical Ecology 2001, 17, 787–808. PDF online.
Holbrook, K. M.; Smith, T. B. Seed dispersal and movement patterns in two species of Ceratogymna hornbills in a West African tropical lowland forest. Oecologia 2000, 125, 249–257. PDF online.
Whitney, K.; Smith, T. B. Habitat use and resource tracking by African Ceratogymna hornbills: implications for seed dispersal and forest conservation. American Conservation 1998, 1, 107–117. PDF

A complete copy of this publication is available on SFSU Leonard Library (Call number AS36 1996 BIOL .W447).

CTR Bird

Center for Tropical Research | UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300 | 619 Charles E. Young Dr. East | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

The Center for Tropical Research, located on the third floor of La Kretz Hall, is part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. For general inquiries, contact Christa Gomez, CTR Office Manager, at (310) 206-6234, or by email at cgomez@lifesci.ucla.edu. Visitors are always welcome.

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