The Habitat Of The Lowland Tapir Essay

1383 Words Dec 1st, 2014 6 Pages
Tapirs are large mammals that belong to the Perissodactyla order (Galetti et al. 2001). They are the only species currently present from the Pleistocene megafauna, which makes them the ideal mammal capable of dispersing large seeded fruit in Central and South America (Simpson 1980, Eisenberg 1981). Although there are currently four species of tapirs (Norman and Ashley 2000), this essay will focus on the lowland tapir, Tapirus terrestris. It is important to note that the mountain tapir, Tapirus pichaque, will be mentioned along with significant concepts relating to it. It is postulated that although tapirs are mainly generalists, they are capable of focusing on a main food source.
As most mammal seed dispersers, tapirs are generalists, as their diet is highly dependent on seasonality and habitat. Up to 57 plant species have been observed to be present in the diet of the lowland tapir (Talamoni and Assis 2009). Therefore, although this mammal is mainly a browser, they will feed primarily on fruit when accessible due to its nutritious component (Bodmer 1990, Downer 1996). Tapirs have a large body mass, and can travel long distances; this makes them capable of effectively dispersing a high amount of different sized seeds, from one habitat to another. This emphasizes, that they are important elements for the plant community structure as they are capable of producing palm patches, and molding neotropical forests (Fragoso 2003).
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