Agoutis are thus sometimes harmful and sometimes beneficial to trees. This is known as a conditional mutualism and our central question is to determine what conditions affect this relationship. This question is important for understanding forest regeneration, as well as the mutualistic relationships that promote the evolution of diversity.
We found amazingly high levels of cache thievery by agoutis, resulting in some seeds being moved dozens of times by different animals, moving much further than you would expect if just one animal had been involved. Furthermore, this repeated movement is directional, moving the seed into areas of lower density trees (of that same species), where it is less likely to be discovered by thieving rodents, but also where it faces less competition.
Please see our project blog, The Agouti Enterprise, for more about this project.