Seed dispersal by pygmy chimpanzees (Pan paniscus): A preliminary report
The role in seed dispersal played by the pygmy chimpanzees (Pan paniscus) inhabiting Wamba, Republic of Zaïre, was studied. Germination was tested for seeds of 17 plant species recovered from the feces of pygmy chimpanzees at Wamba. The fecal seeds of 13 species germinated, and in six of the species the germination rate for the fecal seeds was higher than that of control seeds. Although five other species showed a higher germination rate in the control seeds than in the fecal seeds, the remaining two species revealed no difference in germination rate between the fecal and control seeds. There was no great difference in germination velocity between the fecal and control seeds of the same species. For comparison, seeds of four plant species collected from the feces of common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and gibbons (Hylobates lar) in captivity in Okinawa were tested for their germinability. In this test, although the seeds had passed through the digestive tract, their germinability demonstrated little change. Based on the behavioral characteristics of the pygmy chimpanzee at Wamba and observations of the captive primates on Okinawa, it seems that pygmy chimpanzees may play an important role in the seed dispersal of fruit plant species at Wamba.