Sunday, March 1, 2009

Toco Toucan Tradeoff

A Toco Toucan at London Zoo.

I was doing some reading about Toucans. I confess I was never this enthusiastic as a student but these days I seem to be finding everything interesting. Anyway, I came across this curious conservation paper: Conservation puzzle: Endangered hyacinth macaw depends on its nest predator for reproduction.

In the Pantanal wetlands of Central Brazil, the endangered hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), the largest psitacid in the world, makes its nest almost exclusively in natural hollows found in the manduvi tree (Sterculia apetala). The recruitment of manduvis greatly depends on the seed dispersal services provided by the toco toucan (Ramphastos toco), responsible for 83.3% of the seed dispersal. The toco toucan, however, is responsible for about 53% of the preyed eggs, resulting in a case of conflicting ecological pressures in which the reproduction of the hyacinth macaw is indirectly dependent on the seed dispersal services of its nest predator.

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