HORNBILLS, A SEED DISTRIBUTER
What’s in news?
Researchers from Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, have mapped the different frugivore (fruit eater) birds and their interactions that are important for the forest ecosystem.
- The study carried out in Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh and looked at 43 tree species, 48 frugivore bird species that were seen visiting them.
- From the study, it’s come to light about hornbills, a threatened species, one among the large-sized frugivores, are the top seed dispersers. The study was published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.
- A single bird species could visit different tree species, and a single tree species would be visited by different bird species. So a complex network of over 400 interactions was created and studied.
As per the study:
- The trees were classified into small, medium, large-seeded.
- The large-seeded trees mainly depended on hornbills and imperial pigeons for their dispersal. The medium-size seeded trees were visited by bulbuls, barbets along with hornbills and imperial pigeons.
- Though the frequency of visits was similar for all four bird species, the number of fruits removed from trees was high for hornbills.
- Among the different bird species, hornbills were found to be the most effective seed dispersers.
- They were found to swallow and disperse most of the fruits they handled. They also removed maximum number of fruits and therefore seeds in every visit to a fruiting tree.
Great Indian Hornbill:
- The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) also known as the great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family.
- IUCN status: Vulnerable (uplisted from Near Threatened in 2018).
- It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES.
- The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
- It is predominantly fruit eating, but is an opportunist and also preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds. This bird found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
- Beaks and head are used in charms, Flesh is believed to be medicinal and Young birds are considered a delicacy
- Its impressive size and colour have made it important in many tribal cultures and rituals.
- State bird of Keralaand Arunachal Pradesh.
- Threats: Logging, Forest clearance for agriculture, Susceptible to hunting pressure, the casqued and tail feathers are targeted in many locations across the range, both are used as adornments by local communities
Pakke Tiger Reserve:
- The Pakke Tiger Reserve is located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalaya in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
- Pakke Tiger Reserve in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh has won the ‘India Biodiversity Award 2016’.