Geographic patterns of tree dispersal modes in Amazonia and their ecological correlates

Diego F. Correa*, Pablo R. Stevenson, Maria Natalia Umaña, Luiz de Souza Coelho, Diógenes de Andrade Lima Filho, Rafael P. Salomão, Iêda Leão do Amaral, Florian Wittmann, Francisca Dionízia de Almeida Matos, Carolina V. Castilho, Oliver L. Phillips, Juan Ernesto Guevara, Marcelo de Jesus Veiga Carim, William E. Magnusson, Daniel Sabatier, Jean François Molino, Mariana Victória Irume, Maria Pires Martins, José Renan da Silva Guimarães, Olaf S. BánkiMaria Teresa Fernandez Piedade, Nigel C.A. Pitman, Abel Monteagudo Mendoza, José Ferreira Ramos, Bruno Garcia Luize, Evlyn Márcia Moraes de Leão Novo, Percy Núñez Vargas, Thiago Sanna Freire Silva, Eduardo Martins Venticinque, Angelo Gilberto Manzatto, Neidiane Farias Costa Reis, John W. Terborgh, Katia Regina Casula, Euridice N. Honorio Coronado, Juan Carlos Montero, Jochen Schöngart, Dairon Cárdenas López, Flávia R.C. Costa, Adriano Costa Quaresma, Charles Eugene Zartman, Timothy J. Killeen, Beatriz S. Marimon, Ben Hur Marimon-Junior, Rodolfo Vasquez, Bonifacio Mostacedo, Layon O. Demarchi, Ted R. Feldpausch, Rafael L. Assis, Christopher Baraloto, André Braga Junqueira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Aim: To investigate the geographic patterns and ecological correlates in the geographic distribution of the most common tree dispersal modes in Amazonia (endozoochory, synzoochory, anemochory and hydrochory). We examined if the proportional abundance of these dispersal modes could be explained by the availability of dispersal agents (disperser-availability hypothesis) and/or the availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits (resource-availability hypothesis). Time period: Tree-inventory plots established between 1934 and 2019. Major taxa studied: Trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) ≥ 9.55 cm. Location: Amazonia, here defined as the lowland rain forests of the Amazon River basin and the Guiana Shield. Methods: We assigned dispersal modes to a total of 5433 species and morphospecies within 1877 tree-inventory plots across terra-firme, seasonally flooded, and permanently flooded forests. We investigated geographic patterns in the proportional abundance of dispersal modes. We performed an abundance-weighted mean pairwise distance (MPD) test and fit generalized linear models (GLMs) to explain the geographic distribution of dispersal modes. Results: Anemochory was significantly, positively associated with mean annual wind speed, and hydrochory was significantly higher in flooded forests. Dispersal modes did not consistently show significant associations with the availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits. A lower dissimilarity in dispersal modes, resulting from a higher dominance of endozoochory, occurred in terra-firme forests (excluding podzols) compared to flooded forests. Main conclusions: The disperser-availability hypothesis was well supported for abiotic dispersal modes (anemochory and hydrochory). The availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits seems an unlikely explanation for the distribution of dispersal modes in Amazonia. The association between frugivores and the proportional abundance of zoochory requires further research, as tree recruitment not only depends on dispersal vectors but also on conditions that favour or limit seedling recruitment across forest types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-69
Number of pages21
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number1
Early online date24 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Amazonian rain forests
  • anemochory
  • dispersal agents
  • disperser-availability hypothesis
  • endozoochory
  • flooded forests
  • hydrochory
  • resource-availability hypothesis
  • synzoochory
  • terra-firme forests


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