There are three distinct routes/areas in the 25 hectare plot that the agouti team monitors from day to day. The two areas that contrast each other the most are the Lake-Miller route (circled in black in the picture below) and the Balboa route (circled in pink in the picture below). Walking on the Lake-Miller route (L-01 – L-05 on map), the differences between the seed movement in the northwestern area of study versus the southeastern area (25 hectare plot). Whichever agouti team member takes the Lake route for the day will see that most of the work done here is checking seed experiments that may not have any stolen seeds for up to 8 days. Of course, after a week the seeds will be replaced and monitored again. Keeping the seeds fresh is important in this study. In the area off of Balboa (B-01 – B-05 on map), experiments will usually have 50% to 100% of the seeds moved or cached in just 24 hours after the experiment has been placed. In this area, there is guaranteed to be more seed tracking from day to day. For instance, there have been a few seeds that have been moved and cached for a total of 25 times. The highest cache number along the Lake route is around 8 or 9; the seeds just don’t move as much. Why is that?
As you can see from the map, the southeastern area of the 25 hectare plot has a much lower Astrocaryum density while the northwest route is littered with astrocaryum thus giving it a higher density. The thought that arises from this is that with a greater astrocaryum tree density in an area, there will be astrocaryum seeds on the forest floor. With a high abundance of food for the agoutis in the area, there would be less seed stealing from our experiments for a multitude of reasons but the most compelling is as follows: the likelihood of the agouti passing by our experiment before happening upon many other seeds is lower. In areas with a lower astrocaryum seed density (pink in picture) the food source is much more limited thus, the agoutis – and anything else eating the seeds – are more likely to take the seeds from the experiments at a quicker rate.
Now that we see how often the seeds are being moved in these two areas, the next step would be to monitor the agouti abundance in each area as well. In the high astrocaryum density areas, there seems to be a greater variety of animals passing by the camera traps (ocelot, coati, agouti, etc). However, in the low astrocaryum density areas, the main animals that are caught on the cameras are the agoutis and the spiny rats.