Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 245-255

Partitioning of seed dispersal services between birds and bats in a fragment of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Sarmento, RaissaAlves-Costa, Cecília PAyub, AdrianaMello, Marco A. R

Community-level network studies suggest that seed dispersal networks may share some universal properties with other complex systems. However, most of the datasets used so far in those studies have been strongly biased towards temperate birds, including not only dispersers, but also seed predators. Recent evidence from multi-taxon networks suggests that seed dispersal networks are not all alike and may be more complex than previously thought. Here, we used network theory to evaluate seed dispersal in a strongly impacted Atlantic Forest fragment in northeastern Brazil, where bats and birds are the only extant dispersers. We hypothesized that the seed dispersal network should be more modular then nested, and that the dispersers should segregate their services according to dispersal syndromes. Furthermore, we predicted that bat and bird species that are more specialized in frugivory would be more important for maintaining the network structure. The mixed network contained 56 plant species, 12 bat species, and eight bird species, and its structure was more modular (M = 0.58) then nested (NODF = 0.21) compared with another multi-taxon network and 21 single-taxon networks (with either bats or birds). All dispersed fruits had seeds smaller than 9 mm. Bats dispersed mainly green fruits, whereas birds dispersed fruits of various colors. The network contained eight modules: five with birds only, two with bats only, and one mixed. Most dispersers were peripheral, and only specialized frugivores acted as hubs or connectors. Our results strongly support recent studies, suggesting that seed dispersal networks are complex mosaics, where different taxa form separate modules with different properties, which in turn play complementary roles in the maintenance of the associated ecosystem functions and services.(AU)

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