Hunting in Forests

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Science  18 May 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5827, pp. 955
DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5827.955a

The killing of large vertebrates by humans can have ramifications beyond the immediate effects on the prey populations themselves. There is growing evidence that harvesting of animals from tropical forests affects the entire ecological community. In particular, the dispersal of plant seeds is altered when their animal sowers are depleted by hunting; this in turn has long-term consequences for tree species composition in the forest. The outcomes may be unexpected: in some cases, hunting can actually increase the relative abundance of large-seeded plant species because it reduces seed predation pressure, as described by Beckman and Muller-Landau. The hunting of vertebrates can also affect invertebrate populations. For example, a reduction in the amount of dung directly stresses the populations of dung beetles. These and other sequelae of hunting in tropical forests, and the steps that might be taken to reduce hunting pressure, are discussed in 10 papers in a special section edited by Wright and Stoner. — AMS

Biotropica 39, 328; 289 (2007).

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