N. Leley1*, R. Chira2, G. Wahungu3 and C. Wekesa4
1Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Rift Valley Eco-Region Research Programme,
P. O. Box 382-20203, Londiani, Kenya.
2University of Nairobi, School of Biological Sciences, P.O. Box 30197-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
3National Environment Management Authority, Headquarters, P.O. Box 67839-00200, Nairobi, Kenya.
4Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Coast Eco-Region Research Programme,
P.O. Box 1078 - 80200, Malindi, Kenya.
*Corresponding Author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Primates are known to maintain forest plant population and regeneration through seed dispersal. They swallow and defecate and or spit large quantities of viable seeds away from the parent plant. This study was conducted in Gede Ruins forest, a coastal dry forest of Kenya to establish the contribution of Sykes monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis albogularis in maintenance of community structure and species composition through seed dispersal. The existing forest structure, species composition and seed dispersal as well as germination tests of monkey dispersed seeds were determined. The study was carried out in primary and secondary forest during rainy and dry periods for seasonal comparisons. Age classes in the forest exhibited a reversed exponential curve, a characteristic of a regenerating forest. There was no marked difference in vegetation structure and species composition between primary and secondary forest an indication that secondary forest had regained most of its structural complexity attributed to seed dispersal and successful regeneration and recruitment. The monkeys dispersed diverse seeds to at least 5 m from the canopy edge of mother tree which is crucial for escape of density dependent mortalities and species specific pathogens and fungi which occur in high densities beneath and near mother trees. Seasonality and provisioning by tourists were the key factors that significantly affected the potentiality of Sykes monkeys to disperse seeds and hence forest regeneration. Additionally, ingestion significantly reduced latency period and enhanced germination success implying that endozoochory was critical for regeneration of Gede Ruins Forest. Sykes monkeys were therefore, effective and efficient seed dispersers because they; moved large number of seeds, did not decrease seed viability and dispersed array of species. This suggests that enhancing population of Sykes monkeys in fragmented and degraded Coastal dry forests of Kenya is critical for natural forest regeneration and restoration.
Key words: Seed Dispersal, Forest Regeneration, Sykes Monkeys, Dung Beetles, Gede Ruins Forest