[2013 ]Dispersal and predation of diaspores of Coula edulis Baill. in an evergreen forest of Gabon. African Journal of Ecology 52, 88-96. doi: 10.1111/aje.12089
The African walnut (Coula edulis) is a tree species of African evergreen forests, the seeds of which are collected and traded by African people. Many animal species consume African walnut diaspores; however, their roles as dispersers or predators have yet to be clarified. In this study, we present observations conducted in two different habitats of a Gabonese region over a 3-year period. The originality of this research resides in the combination of three complementary approaches: (i) the use of camera-traps (ii) the exploration of land rodent burrows and (iii) the examination of elephant dung. In total, 408 camera-trap photographs have shown seven animal species involved in the dispersal/predation of C. edulis.
Among these seven frugivorous species, the bush pig was found to be the main consumer and predator of seeds. Land rodents (Muridae) are potential predators, as they damaged the seeds and buried them deep in the soil. They may also play a role in the regeneration process as a result of the loss of seeds during transportation. Finally, no seeds appeared to emerge intact from elephant faeces. These results indicate that the natural regeneration rate of this tree species is low, unless other complex mecha-nisms are involved.