A new study has revealed how the hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) and Lear’s macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) help spread the seeds of 18 plant species in Brazil and Bolivia. Researchers used direct observation and camera traps to record more than 1,700 fruit dispersal events by the two macaw species. The study’s results challenge previously held views that the dispersal of large seeds was carried out by the now-extinct megafauna of the Pleistocene Epoch. The hyacinth macaw, listed as vulnerable, and Lear’s macaw, which is endangered, were also found to be effective seed dispersers, despite previously being thought to fully consume all the seeds they ate. The hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) is the largest species of macaw and a dead ringer for the smaller Lear’s macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) . Both species have the strongest beaks in the Psittacidae family of true parrots, capable of easily breaking open the large fruits of different palm trees. This gives them a starring role in dispersing the seeds of at least 18 plant species across their range, according to a study published in the journal Diversity in January. The study’s authors, from five different institutions, carried out a dozen expeditions in the Caatinga, Cerrado and […]

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