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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19233

Title: On Small Mammal Sympatry in the Southeastern Amazon and Ecological Relationships with Brazil Nut Dispersal and Harvesting
Authors: Solorzano-Filho, Jorge Alberto
Advisor: Malcolm, Jay R.
Department: Forestry
Keywords: Small Mammals
Brazil nut
Seed Dispersal
Radio Telemetry
Spiny rat
Proechimys cuvieri
Proechimys goeldii
Proechimys roberti
Mesomys stimulax
Bertholletia excelsa
Track plate
Issue Date: 3-Mar-2010
Abstract: The Amazon rainforest harbors the planet's highest biodiversity among terrestrial ecosystems; however, the biology and ecology of most of its species are unknown. Niche partitioning is considered a key factor allowing species co-existence, especially for morphological similar species such as spiny rats of the genus Proechimys. I examined the extent to which habitat differentiation, species body mass, and diet could explain the community composition of small mammals at a site in the southeastern Amazon. Moreover, I radio-tagged sympatric species of Proechimys spp. and Mesomys stimulax (an arboreal spiny rat) to obtain detailed autoecology information, including habitat use and use of space. I found support for niche partitioning among species and associated small mammal species with distinct successional phases of gap dynamics. I also observed among Proechimys spp. a typical polygynous organization: females appeared to be territorial against females of any species of their genus; but male territories overlapped with those of several females. Mesomys stimulax showed evidence of monogamy and possible sociality, although sample sizes were small. To identify the importance of small mammals as seed disperser of Brazil nut seeds, I conduct experiments using a combination of fluorescent powder, seed exclosures, and track plates in forests with and without Brazil nut groves, and in forests with and without Brazil nut harvesting. Among small mammals, only Proechimys spp. removed, dispersed, and preyed upon Brazil nut seeds. Proechimys spp. sometimes scatterhoarded these seeds, and hence have the potential to play a significant role in recruiting new Brazil nut trees. I also trapped small mammals and measured forest structures on the same sites used for the seed dispersal experiment, to determine the ecological effects of Brazil nut harvest on small mammal communities; however, my results showed little evidence of changes associated with the seed exploitation. My results highlight the importance of habitat heterogeneity in structuring small mammal communities, and indicate that forest management practices that alter habitats, such as partial logging, also can be expected to alter small mammal composition and diversity. Proechimys spp. have the potential to play an important role in the ecological restoration of intensive exploited Brazil nut groves.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19233
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Faculty of Forestry - Doctoral theses

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