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Frugivory and seed dispersal by vertebrates in the Oriental (Indomalayan) Region



Current knowledge of frugivory and seed dispersal by vertebrates in the Oriental Region is summarized. Some degree of frugivory has been reported for many fish and reptile species, almost half the genera of non-marine mammals and more than 40% of bird genera in the region. Highly frugivorous species, for which fruit dominates the diet for at least part of the year, occur in at least two families of reptiles, 12 families of mammals and 17 families of birds. Predation on seeds in fleshy fruits is much less widespread taxonomically: the major seed predators are colobine monkeys and rodents among the mammals, and parrots, some pigeons, and finches among the birds. Most seeds in the Oriental Region, except near its northern margins, are dispersed by vertebrate families which are endemic to the region or to the Old World. Small fruits and large, soft fruits with many small seeds are consumed by a wide range of potential seed dispersal agents, including species which thrive in small forest fragments and degraded landscapes. Larger, bigger-seeded fruits are consumed by progressively fewer dispersers, and the largest depend on a few species of mammals and birds which are highly vulnerable to hunting, fragmentation and habitat loss.




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