Title

Diet of the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris L) in the Tabaro River valley, southern Venezuela

Publication Date

1996

Journal or Book Title

CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY-REVUE CANADIENNE DE ZOOLOGIE

Abstract

In this study we document the diet, determine diet selection, and evaluate the seed-dispersal role of lowland tapirs (Tapirus terrestris L.) in the Tabaro River valley of southern Venezuela. The diet was assessed by checking treefall gaps and closed-canopy areas of equal size for browsing signs, examining droppings for seeds and fruit remains, and casually asking experienced Ye'kwana Indian hunters. Plants browsed by tapirs were identified and counted. The abundance of each plant species at the study site was determined using 25-m2 quadrats and compared with its abundance in the diet to determine selectivity. Because tapirs defecate in water, their role as seed dispersers was examined by analyzing the distribution of diet species using a data base of the locations of trees at the study site. Information from the 25-m2 quadrats was used for lianas and shrubs. Results show that tapirs selectively browse on 88 out of at least 256 plant species, consistently avoiding more species in closed-canopy areas. Some species occur significantly more frequently in the diet than their relative abundance in the forest. Tapirs eat fruits of 33 species; 2 of these are mainly found near the water and 9 away from the water.

DOI

10.1139/z96-159

Volume

74

Issue

8

Pages

1444-1451

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