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Binturongs (Arctictis binturong) are the largest of Asian civets and, due to their highly frugivorous diet, are expected to play an important role in seed dispersal processes. To study the effect of binturong gut passage on seed viability, we fed 10 captive binturongs with fruits of longan (Dimocarpus longan), papaya (Carica papaya) and chiku (Manilkara zapota), collected the seeds they defaecated, and planted these to determine seed germination rate and time. Of the defaecated seeds, 90.4% passed through binturong gut intact in under nine hours, and 99.4% passed in under 33 hours. Chiku seeds had the highest germination rate (35.7% and 34.8% for ingested and control seeds, respectively), followed by papaya (30.8% and 27.6%) and longan (18.9% and 29.8%). The germination rate of longan seeds ingested by binturong was significantly lower than that control seeds, while for the other two species there were no differences. All three species germinated approximately three days faster after gut passage, which may increase seedling survival. This study indicates that binturongs may be effective agents of seed dispersal for some fruit species.


This work was originally published in Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.



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