Many carnivorous mammals consume fruits and disperse the intact seeds to specific sites. Few studies have attempted to quantify this seed dispersal or evaluate its effectiveness, despite its potential importance and functional uniqueness. In the study reported here, we found that a frugivorous carnivore, the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), generated seed shadows that are distinct from those of the sympatric frugivore, the pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina), and played a unique and important role in the regeneration of Leea aculeata (Leeaceae). We found that macaques dispersed the seeds randomly, while civets dispersed them non-randomly to sites such as the banks of small rivers, rain-flow paths, abandoned trails, and treefall gaps, which are characterized by low stem density and canopy cover. Seeds of L. aculeata that were dispersed by civets to the banks of rivers and gaps had significantly higher survival and growth rates than those dispersed to rain-flow paths or abandoned trails. Seeds dispersed by macaques or to random locations also had low survival. Although the effects of the civets on seed fate were not straightforward, compared with macaques and random dispersal, civets significantly enhanced the survival and growth of L. aculeata seeds after 1 year. These results indicate that non-random dispersal by civets is important for the persistence of L. aculeata. Civets may disperse other plant species and thus could have profound effects on forest dynamics.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.