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UNICAMP 2016

If apes go extinct, so could entire forests

Bonobos eat a lot of fruit, and fruit contains seeds. Those seeds travel through a bonobo’s digestive system while bonobo itself travels around the forest. A few hours later, the seeds end up being deposited far from where the fruits were plucked. And that is where the new trees come from.

According to a paper recently published, if the bonobos disappeared, the plants would also likely go extinct, for many trees and plants species in Congo rely almost exclusively on bonobos for seed dispersal.

The bonobo has two major functions here. First of all, many seeds will not germinate well unless they have been “handled” by another species. Stomach acids and intestinal processes make the seed more able to absorb water and later sprout.

Secondly, many seeds will not succeed if they remain too close to their parental trees. The seeds that fell to the ground near their parents did not survive because they were choked off by the nearby plants. The bonobos eat about 3,5 hours every day and travel a mean of 1.2 kilometers from meal sites before defecating.

(Adaptado de http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown /if-apes-go-extinct-so-could-entire-forests/.)

 

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