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Data from: Queen palm fruit selection and foraging techniques by squirrels in the Atlantic Forest


Alves, Briza Cristina; Mendes, Calebe Pereira; Ribeiro., Milton Cezar (2017), Data from: Queen palm fruit selection and foraging techniques by squirrels in the Atlantic Forest, Dryad, Dataset,


Palm fruits are a significant resource for fauna worldwide, particularly in tropical regions. Such is the case for queen palm seeds (Syagrus romanzoffiana), which is a vital source of nutrients for the squirrel Guerlinguetus ingrami. This squirrel acts as seed predator, as well as seed disperser of this important palm for the frugivore community, but we don´t know how this squirrel select and manipulate the queen palm seeds. The objective of this study was to address three key topics: (1) investigate the squirrel’s capacity to discern which of the fruit’s three pores is the germinal orifice, which permits a more efficient opening of the fruit; (2) assess whether the thickness and size of the fruit endocarp influence the squirrel’s selection during foraging; and (3) evaluate the intentionality of the rodents to prey on the invertebrates within the fruit. For this, we used behavioral experimentation techniques, controlling the predictor variables and observing the changes in the squirrel’s behavior. We found that (1) the squirrel identified the germinal pore by its greater depth relative to the other pores; (2) the size and thickness of the fruit not influences the squirrel’s choice; and (3) the squirrel prefers to consume fruits infested by invertebrates. The development of strategies to more efficiently open the queen palm fruit indicates the importance of this resource to the squirrels. In addition, due to the preference for invertebrates, the squirrel controls the population of these fruit parasites, providing a service to the population of palm trees.

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