RODRIGUEZ CABAL mariano Alberto
The forest gardener: A marsupial with a key seed-dispersing role in the Patagonian temperate forest
VAZQUEZ, MIRIAM SOLEDAD; RODRIGUEZ-CABAL, MARIANO A.; AMICO, GUILLERMO C.
Año: 2022 vol. 37 p. 270 - 283
Seed dispersal by vertebrate animals is critical for the establishment of fleshy-fruited plant species. In regions with impoverished faunas, such as the Patagonian temperate forest, the arboreal marsupial Dromiciops gliroides plays a key role as a seed disperser. Here, we assessed the ecological role of D. gliroides as a seed disperser and their possible effects on the plant structure of the Patagonian temperate forest. We found that the passage through the digestive tract of D. gliroides increased germination rate in four of the five groups of plants evaluated. Additionally, we found that D. gliroides disperses all the epiphytes, almost a quarter of the vines and parasites, and could disperse about half of the trees and shrubs present in the Patagonian temperate forest. Taken together, our results demonstrate the keystone dispersing role played by D. gliroides within the Patagonian temperate forest and highlight the importance of its conservation for the preservation of this highly endemic flora.