1 Tahrcountry Musings: The importance of frugivorous birds in human-impacted landscapes

Friday, March 30, 2012

The importance of frugivorous birds in human-impacted landscapes

Species richness matters for the quality of ecosystem services: a test using seed dispersal by frugivorous birds
Daniel García and Daniel Martínez
Published online before print March 28, 2012, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0175, Proc. R. Soc. B

In ecological science the positive link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is an established paradigm. In spite of this importance we do not have much idea  of how different attributes of species assemblages condition the quality of many services in real ecosystems affected by human impact.

 Here the researchers explore the links between the attributes of a frugivore assemblage and the quantitative and qualitative components of its derived ecosystem service, seed dispersal, along a landscape-scale gradient of anthropogenic forest loss. The researchers say both the number and the richness of seeds being dispersed were positively related to frugivore abundance and richness.

Seed dispersal quality, determined by the fine-scale spatial patterns of seed deposition, mostly depended on frugivore richness. The researchers emphasize that richness was the only attribute of the frugivore assemblage affecting the probability of seed dispersal into deforested areas of the landscape.

The researchers contend that the positive relationships between frugivore richness per se  and all components of seed dispersal suggest the existence of functional complementarity and/or facilitation between frugivores.
 The researchers sign off with the following words “These links also point to the whole assemblage of frugivores as a conservation target, if we aim to preserve a complete seed dispersal service and, hence, the potential for vegetation regeneration and recovery, in human-impacted landscapes”.

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