Rare golden primates help speed recovery of endangered Brazilian forest
June 9, 2008
Collecting droppings of golden lion tamarin introduced to União Biological Reserve in Rio de Janeiro state, Marina Janzantti Lapenta and Paula Procópio-de-Oliveira of the Golden Lion Tamarin Association found that the small primates are efficient seed dispersers, due to the number and variety of seeds consumed and because they help faciliate germination.
"The tamarins deposit the seeds in places more favorable to germination," said Lapenta, lead author of the study and an ecologist at the University of São Paulo.
Lapenta says that tamarins deposit seeds in favorable habitats far from the trees where they feed, giving the seeds a better chance of germinating away from seed predators and with better access to sunlight.
"While other animals disperse seeds in the same forests of golden lion tamarins, these species disperse seeds of different sizes and in other quantities," Lapenta explained.
Lapenta and Procópio-de-Oliveira suggest the golden lion tamarin goes beyond simply serving as flagship species for conservation: the charismatic primate actually plays an important role in the recovery of the Mata Atlantica, an ecosystem than has been diminished by more than 90 percent due to logging and agricultural expansion.
Marina Janzantti Lapenta and Paula Procópio-de-Oliveira (2008). Some aspects of seed dispersal effectiveness of golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia) in a Brazilian Atlantic forest. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 1(2) :122-139, 2008