Loss of big fruit-eating birds impacting trees in endangered rainforests
Loss of big fruit-eating birds impacting trees in endangered rainforests mongabay.com May 31, 2013 print The extinction of large, fruit-eating birds in fragments of Brazil's Atlantic rainforest has caused palm trees to produce smaller seeds over the past century, impacting forest ecology, finds a study published in the journal Science . The researchers — led by Mauro Galetti from Brazil's Universidade Estadual Paulista — looked at Euterpe edulis palm seeds in patches of forest that have been fragmented by deforestation, coffee plantations, and sugar cane fields since the 19th century. They found that palm trees produced significantly smaller seeds in areas of forest that are too small to support "large-gaped" birds like toucans and large cotingas. The absence of these birds means that larger seeds aren't effectively dispersed, while smaller seeds are more vulnerable to dry...