Seed dispersal and tree population dynamics

The above video is from one of my camera traps in Thailand, showing a large Indian civet caught in the act of dispersing Miliusa seeds.

The Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the largest intact forest complex in mainland southeast Asia, and contains intact populations of large mammals hunted to extinction elsewhere, including sun bears, tigers and gibbons.  Understanding the role of these animal seed dispersers in forest dynamics is central for tropical forest conservation, because if seed dispersal plays an important role in determining tree abundance and distribution, maintaining populations of animal seed dispersers should be a conservation priority.  The focal species for this research is Miliusa horsfieldii, a dominant canopy tree species in Huai Kha Khaeng. Seeds of Miliusa are dispersed by large, wide-ranging mammals, including civets, bears, macaques and gibbons, providing the opportunity to study the demography of an animal-dispersed tree species in a site where the dispersers are still abundant.

I am using data from a long-term forest dynamic plot and seed addition experiments to understand how animal seed dispersal influences the population dynamics and large-scale distribution of this canopy tree species.

This research has been published as:

T. Trevor Caughlin, Jake M. Ferguson, Jeremy W. Lichstein, Sarayudh Bunyavejchewin, and Douglas J. Levey 2014. The importance of long-distance seed dispersal for the demography and distribution of a canopy tree species. Ecology 952.

T. Trevor Caughlin, Jake M. Ferguson, Jeremy W. Lichstein, Peter A. Zuidema, Sarayudh Bunyavejchewin, and Douglas J. Levey 2015.  Loss of animal seed dispersal increases extinction risk in a tropical tree species due to pervasive negative density dependence across life stages. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282:20142095.


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