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Movement paths of 224 radio-tagged palm seeds by rodents on Barro Colorado Island, Panama.

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Published on Jul 13, 2012

Relative movement paths of 224 radio-tagged palm seeds handled by rodents on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Colored dots mark locations of 129 seeds that were found eaten (orange), 86 seeds last seen before they lost their tags (gray), and 9 seeds that were still alive, cached, and being monitored after a year (pink). Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama. By attaching tiny radio transmitters to more than 400 seeds, Patrick Jansen, scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Wageningen University, and his colleagues found that 85 percent of the seeds were buried in caches by agoutis, common, house cat-sized rodents in tropical lowlands. Agoutis carry seeds around in their mouths and bury them for times when food is scarce.

From the paper "Thieving rodents as substitute dispersers of megafaunal seeds," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online July 16, 2012.
Jansen, Patrick A., Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University; Hirsch, Ben T., Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University; Emsens, Willem-Jan, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University; Ecosystem Management Research Group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp; Zamora-Gutierrez, Veronica, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University; Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge; Wikelski, Martin, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Max Planck Institute for Ornithology; Department of Ornithology, University of Konstanz; Kays, Roland W., Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; North Carolina State University

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