Guild of Frugivores on three fruit-producing tree species Polyscias fulva, Syzyguim Guineensis SUBSP. Bamensdae and Pouteria Altissima) in Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve, a Montane Forest Ecosystem in Nigeria
This research was conducted in Ngel Nyaki Forest reserve, a montane forest ecosystem located at the western escapement of Mambilla Plateau, Taraba State, Nigeria. The area comprises core montane forest and riparian forest fragments. The aim was to investigate the nature of the guilds of fruit-eating animals (frugivores) found on three montane forest tree species, Polyscias fulva, Syzyguim guineensis subsp. bamendae and Pouteria altissima. Observations were made during the fruiting season to determine frugivore composition on each of the focal tree species. Observations were continued until almost all fruit had been removed prior to selecting another focal tree of the same species. The frugivore guilds were found to overlap in the three focal tree species although there was minimal overlap between Pouteria altissima and the other two species. This may be explained by the fact that P. altissima is present in the main forest, where the majority of the fruit consumers are found, and absent from the fragments. Furthermore the large size of P. altissima fruit limited frugivores to those with wide gapes. Both P. fulva and S. guineensis subsp. bamendae were found in both the main forest and the fragments. In the fragments extraction, deforestation and bush burning have resulted in severe tree species loss resulting in the predominance of pioneering species. One of the means of recovering tree species diversity within these important forest fragments would be to protect the area from grazing and burning, thereby creating refugia for frugivores to inhabit and from there disperse seed.
Key words: Frugivores, Fruit trees, Montane forest, Seed Dispersal