Watch researchers follow brown spider monkeys in a tropical forest of Colombia to determine which plant seeds they are dispersing. Seed dispersers are critical to the forest’s ability to grow and regenerate.
As the tropical forests of Colombia are cleared for farmland and cattle ranches, the remaining patches of forest become fewer, smaller and further apart from each other threatening the survival of the animals that live there, including brown spider monkeys. Brown spider monkeys are critical seed dispersers and as their numbers decrease the forest is less able to regenerate. Andres Link and Carolina Urbina Malo of Los Andes University in Colombia are identifying the seeds that spider monkeys disperse to better understand the monkeys’ role in the forest and to predict which plants will be most affected by fragmentation. Once the seeds have been catalogued, Link and colleagues replant them to create corridors between isolated patches of forest.