agoutis, conditional mutualism
Seed dispersal is a vital component of all tropical rainforests; it is the means by which plants can spread their seeds and successfully reproduce. Without the use of dispersal agents, seeds must compete with parent plants and with one another in order to survive. Many of the seeds within neotropical forests are dispersed by animals. These plant-animal interactions have considerable effects on plant distribution and diversity and the structure of rainforest communities (Howe & Smallwood 1982). In some cases, animals act as both seed predators and seed dispersers, ingesting and damaging some seeds, while dispersing others (Theimer 2005). The species of plants and animals involved in these intricate relationships are thus able to rely on one another for their own survival.
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