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The behavior of frugivorous animals (e.g. movement patterns) usually influence plant populations through processes of seed dispersal; however, there are still systems that need to be described and analyzed. This study analyzed information on the habitat use and seed dispersal effectiveness for a population of oilbirds (Stearornis caripensis) in the southern Andes of Colombia. To determine what structural and floristic factors influence habitat choice (such as fragmentation, forest cover, and elevation) we analyzed the frequency of use of different land covers by three oilbirds with GPS devices attached. We alsoused data from 25 vegetation plots (0.1 ha) to characterized the most frequent sites visited by oilbirds. In addition, geographic information systems were used to evaluate the degree of fragmentation and forest cover in the region, and compare it with the sites frequently used by oilbirds. Furthermore, seed dispersal effectiveness was assessed from the information on the quantity of seeds dispersed at the main cave, an estimate of the number of seeds reaching adequate habitats for establishment, germination rates of dispersed seed, and estimates of seed and seedling survival (from a literature review). Oilbirds prefer to visit dense forests, avoid high altitudes and visit both continuous and disturbed forests. The most frequently visited sites have a high proportion of plants known to be consumed by oilbirds. No relationship was found between seed dispersal effectiveness (SDE) and the mean elevation range of the plant species, but SDE was higher when oilbirds were out of the nesting period. The results suggest that the degradation of oilbird populations may imply negative conservation implications on plants (especially large seeded species). Although Oilbird visit secondary forests infrequently ( < 1 0%), they perform a unique ecological role at dispersing seeds to far places; including dense forests, as well as degraded and fragmented environments. Furthermore, oilbirds may be incorporated in programs of ecological restoration aiming to the sustainable use of biodiversity.


Moving patterns, PNN Cueva Guácharos, seed dispersal effectiveness, vegetation plots

Sasha Cárdenas, Laura Cardona, Maria Echeverry-Galvis, Pablo Stevenson

Presentation within symposium:

S-27 Integrating seed dispersal and forest restoration; from animal movement to species interactions

Habitat use and seed dispersal effectiveness by oilbirds
(Steatornis caripensis) in the southern Andes of Colombia


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