Record Details

de A Moura, A C;Cavalcanti, L;Leite-Filho, E;Mesquita, D O;McConkey, K R
Can green iguanas compensate for vanishing seed dispersers in the Atlantic forest fragments of north-east Brazil?
Journal of Zoology
Journal Article
Iguana iguana
The Atlantic forest of Brazil is a biodiversity hot spot, but is extremely fragmented. Local extinction of important seed dispersers, such as primates, threatens the maintenance of these fragments. It is important to evaluate the capacity of fragment-tolerant species to disperse seeds and help maintain plant communities within fragments. Green iguanas Iguana iguana are large, fragment-tolerant, canopy-dwelling lizards and have been noted to disperse seeds. We described the seed dispersal patterns produced by green iguanas in six urban forest fragments (1.2-8 ha in size) in the Atlantic forest of north-east Brazil, over 20 months. A total of 294 seeds were counted in 321 scats, and 12 plant species were dispersed. The largest seeds dispersed were 14.9 mm long and up to 9.2 mm wide. Iguanas deposited 86.9% of scats within latrines, which were used over a mean of at least 9 months. We show that iguanas can be effective seed dispersers and might partially replicate deposition patterns produced by howler monkeys in other studies. It is critical that we improve our understanding on the functional roles played by these cryptic, yet common, iguanas in order to determine whether they could buffer the negative effects caused by the local extinction of primates from forest fragments.