Roads as barriers to seed dispersal by small mammals in a neotropical forest

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We sought to answer the question of whether tropical forest roads act as barriers to seed dispersal by small mammals. Ten paired seed stations were placed 100 m apart along the first 2 km of Pipeline Road in Soberanía National Park, Panamá, with each station containing 5 Astrocaryum standleyanum and 5 Attalea butyracea fruits with intact seeds. An industrial sewing bobbin was attached to each seed to allow movement to be tracked. We observed 154 seed movements; maximum distance moved was 20 m, with a mean of 5.75 m (SD = 5.19). More A. butyracea (131) were moved than A. standleyanum (23), and removal rates varied among the 10 stations. Although some seeds were moved sufficiently far to have crossed the road, none were, indicating that roads do act as barriers to seed dispersal in neotropical forests and that continued expansion of road networks into tropical forests may threaten biodiversity. © International Society for Tropical Ecology.

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Tropical Ecology

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