What is a Frugivore?

The hornbill species of birds are known to survive on fruits and insects.
The hornbill species of birds are known to survive on fruits and insects.

Frugivores are animals that feed on fruits as part of their diet. They are considered frugivorous and consist of both herbivorous and omnivorous animals. Several species of birds are frugivorous, and alongside mammals, they make up the largest composition of animals that feed on fruits. Frugivores are largely dependant on the nutritional composition of fruits and therefore consume them in large quantities. The relationship between fruit-producing plants and frugivores is mutualism and the fruits provide the nutrients the frugivores help in seed dispersal.

Frugivorous Animals

Birds are the most researched frugivores because of the role they play in seed dispersal. The cotinga, the hornbill, the aracari, and several other species of birds are known to survive on fruits and insects. The temperate zone has been established as the most conducive environment for frugivores, but some species are known to reside in the tropics. Mammals that feed on fruits and can disperse the seed are considered frugivorous. The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) resembles a fox, although it is neither a fox nor a wolf, it is an omnivorous animal that feeds on more vegetables than on flesh. It lacks the ability to digest seeds and is known to contribute significantly to the dispersal of the wolf apple. Sixty-five percent of orangutan's diet consists of fruits, a preference over young leaves, flowers, insects, and honey. Other mammalians frugivores are fruit bats and primates.

Are Humans Frugivores?

Several species of animals feed on fruits but are not considered frugivores because fruits do not make up a significant part of their diet. There has always been a controversy on how much fruit a species should consume to be considered a frugivore. The question is aimed at determining whether human beings are frugivorous. Human beings are the most complex organisms walking planet earth; they feed on several sorts of things besides fruit. Throughout history, humans have been known to feed on fruits and are considered natural frugivores, however, in the recent past, the number of people leaning away from flesh is increasing. Health concerns is also driving more people to consume fruits and the nature of humans as frugivores is clearer than before. About half the global population does not have access to proper waste disposal mechanism, and a lot of people are still using the bush to dispose of human waste, a technique that has been determined to be an effective seed dispersal mechanism.


Seed dispersal allows species of plants to disperse. Loss of frugivores, particularly in the tropics, would have dire consequences for the plant population dynamics. The loss of monkeys from the ecosystem would have a large impact since they are the single species linked with the long-distance dispersal of plants in the wild. Climate change and loss of habitat are forcing animals and birds to migrate to new territory, a move that prevents the dispersal of seeds and introduction of new and invasive species of plants that would pose a danger to the native plant species.


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