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Behavioural complementarity among frugivorous birds and lizards can promote plant diversity in island ecosystems

AuthorsMorán-López, Teresa; González-Castro, Aarón ; Morales, Juan Manuel; Nogales, Manuel
KeywordsBehavioural complementarity
Diversity maintenance
Fruit choice
Microhabitat use
Plant–frugivore assemblages
Seed dispersal effectiveness
Issue DateJan-2020
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationFunctional Ecology 34(1): 182-193(2019)
AbstractThe behavioural complementarity of fruit-eating animals is thought to exert a key role in plant community assembly. However, a mechanistic understanding of the causal links between the two processes is still lacking. This study assesses whether complementarity between dispersers in feeding and microhabitat-use behaviour enhances community-scale dispersal services, resulting in a more diverse community of seedlings. We used a Bayesian approach to connect a comprehensive database of seed dispersal effectiveness at a community scale with a transition probability model that accounts for behavioural complementarity. Our model system was the thermosclerophyllous shrubland of the Canary Islands. There, fleshy-fruited plants rely on two types of frugivores: lizards and birds. Lizards consumed all plant species and preferentially used open areas, whereas birds foraged for small single-seeded fruits and dispersed their seeds beneath plants. Through feeding on different sets of plants, they generated a rich seed-rain community. By diversifying the microhabitat of deposition, more species could find suitable recruitment sites. Distinct foraging and microhabitat-use choices led to complementary dispersal services. Lizards ensured that all plant species were present in the seedling community, while birds promoted a more even distribution of them. As a result, diversity in the community of seedlings was enhanced. Overall, our work underscores that behavioural complementarity promotes diversity in the early-regenerating plant communities. These enhanced dispersal services rely on the presence of all functional groups. Thus, in communities where frugivores display unique behaviours, preserving a diverse community of dispersers should be a conservation target. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13476
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/1365-2435.13476
e-issn: 1365-2435
issn: 0269-8463
Appears in Collections:(IPNA) Artículos
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