Paredes, O. S. L., Norris, D., Oliveira, T. G., & Michalski, F. (2017). Water availability not fruitfall modulates the dry season distribution of frugivorous terrestrial vertebrates in a lowland Amazon forest. PLoS ONE, 12(3), e0174049.
Terrestrial vertebrate frugivores constitute one of the major guilds in tropical forests. Previous studies show that the meso-scale distribution of this group is only weakly explained by variables such as altitude and tree basal area in lowland Amazon forests. For the first time we test whether seasonally limiting resources (water and fallen fruit) affect the dry season distribution in 25 species of terrestrial vertebrates. To examine the effects of the spatial availability of fruit and water on terrestrial vertebrates we used a standardized, regularly spaced arrangement of camera-traps within 25km2 of lowland Amazon forest. Generalized linear models (GLMs) were then used to examine the influence of four variables (altitude, distance to large rivers, distance to nearest water, and presence vs absence of fruits) on the number of photos on five functional groups (all frugivores, small, medium, large and very large frugivores) and on seven of the most abundant frugivore species (Cuniculus paca, Dasyprocta leporina, Mazama americana, Mazama nemorivaga, Myoprocta acouchy, Pecari tajacu and Psophia crepitans). A total of 279 independent photos of 25 species were obtained from 900 camera-trap days. For most species and three functional groups, the variation in the number of photos per camera was significantly but weakly explained by the GLMs (deviance explained ranging from 6.2 to 48.8%). Generally, we found that the presence of water availability was more important than the presence of fallen fruit for the groups and species studied. Medium frugivores, large-bodied frugivores, and two of the more abundant species (C. paca and P. crepitans) were recorded more frequently closer to water bodies; while none of the functional groups nor the most abundant species showed any significant relationship with the presence of fallen fruit. Two functional groups and two of the seven most common frugivore species assessed in the GLMs showed significant results with species-specific responses to altitude. Our findings provide a more detailed understanding of how frugivorous vertebrates cope with periods of water and fruit scarcity in lowland Amazon forests.