The Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous) as a secondary seed disperser of Eugenia umbelliflora (Myrtaceae) in a Restinga forest of southeastern Brazil

O chachorro do mato (Cerdocyon thous) como dispersor secundário de Eugenia umbelliflora (Myrtaceae) em uma floresta de Restinga no sudeste do Brasil

The crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) exhibits a very generalist habit and fruits compose a large proportion of its diet. However, few studies evaluated the importance of this animal as seed disperser. In the Restinga forest, in the Atlantic forest of Brazil, C. thous consumes fruits of Eugenia umbelliflora, a Myrtaceae species, which is dispersed chiefly by birds. This study evaluated the effects of gut transit on seed germination, and size selection of E. umbelliflora fruits by the crab-eating fox. We did not find differences on germination rates between seeds dispersed by foxes and control ones, but seeds dispersed by foxes germinated faster, which may be important for plant recruitment. Seeds consumed by C. thous were smaller than those available on the ground, indicating selection for small fruits. Regardless of the selection of small fruits, C. thous appears to be an important secondary disperser of E. umbelliflora, distributing large quantities of viable seeds of this Myrtaceae in the Restinga forest.

Atlantic Forest; carnivores; frugivory; fruit choice; seed dispersal

Instituto Virtual da Biodiversidade | BIOTA - FAPESP Departamento de Biologia Vegetal - Instituto de Biologia, UNICAMP CP 6109, 13083-970 - Campinas/SP, Tel.: (+55 19) 3521-6166, Fax: (+55 19) 3521-6168 - Campinas - SP - Brazil