Scientists from the Universidad Austral discovered in Bosque Pehuén that the monito del monte, the smallest marsupial in the Americas, also commonly lives in the treetops, where it plays a key role in seed dispensing and pest control. This habit has never been described before. Their paper has been published in Ecosphere scientific journal.
The canopy research team of the Universidad Austral de Chile de Valdivia—integrated by Javier Godoy, Iván Díaz, Daniela Mellado and others—have been Bosque Pehuén collaborators since 2014. In the reserve, they have studiously observed life on tree canopies and the vertical profile of the forest, in addition to carrying an exhaustive cadastre of species and biodiversity. By using camera traps on some trees, such as the coihues, more than 25 meters high, they discovered that the monito del monte (Dromiciops gliroides) is a skillful inhabitant of the canopy, where their role as collaborator of the forest is much more relevant than previously thought: they act as important seed dispersers for several species of epiphytes and plants (at least 22 species), and also as pest controllers, since it also feeds on different insects. Their role as seed dispersers is key for several species, as it is not known how these plants could spread without it.
The research was published in the October issue of Ecosphere (Vol 9, Issue 10), of the Ecological Society of America. You can read the article (in English) in this link.
Image: Andres Charrier. Esa.org