Seed-dispersal networks are more specialized in the Neotropics than in the Afrotropics

Phillip J. Dugger, Pedro G. Blendinger, Katrin Böhning-Gaese, Lackson Chama, Marta Correia, D. Matthias Dehling, Carine Emer, Nina Farwig, Evan C. Fricke, Mauro Galetti, Daniel García, Ingo Grass, Ruben Heleno, Fábio A.F. Jacomassa, Suelen Moraes, Catherine Moran, Marcia C. Muñoz, Eike Lena Neuschulz, Larissa Nowak, Augusto PiratelliMarco A. Pizo, Marta Quitián, Haldre S. Rogers, Román A. Ruggera, Francisco Saavedra, Mariano S. Sánchez, Rocío Sánchez, Vinicio Santillán, Dana G. Schabo, Fernanda Ribeiro da Silva, Sérgio Timóteo, Anna Traveset, Maximilian G.R. Vollstädt, Matthias Schleuning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aim: Biogeographical comparisons of interaction networks help to elucidate differences in ecological communities and ecosystem functioning at large scales. Neotropical ecosystems have higher diversity and a different composition of frugivores and fleshy-fruited plants compared with Afrotropical systems, but a lack of intercontinental comparisons limits understanding of (a) whether plant–frugivore networks are structured in a similar manner, and (b) whether the same species traits define the roles of animals across continents. Location: Afrotropics and Neotropics. Time period: 1977–2015. Taxa: Fleshy-fruited plants and frugivorous vertebrates. Methods: We compiled a dataset comprising 17 Afrotropical and 48 Neotropical weighted seed-dispersal networks quantifying frugivory interactions between 1,091 fleshy-fruited plant and 665 animal species, comprising in total 8,251 interaction links between plants and animals. In addition, we compiled information on the body mass of animals and their degree of frugivory. We compared four standard network-level metrics related to interaction diversity and specialization, accounting for differences related to sampling effort and network location. Furthermore, we tested whether animal traits (body mass, degree of frugivory) differed between continents, whether these traits were related to the network roles of species and whether these relationships varied between continents. Results: We found significant structural differences in networks between continents. Overall, Neotropical networks were less nested and more specialized than Afrotropical networks. At the species level, a higher body mass and degree of frugivory were associated with an increasing diversity of plant partners. Specialization of frugivores increased with the degree of frugivory, but only in the Neotropics. Main conclusions: Our findings show that Afrotropical networks have a greater overlap in plant partners among vertebrate frugivores than the more diverse networks in the Neotropics that are characterized by a greater niche partitioning. Hence, the loss of frugivore species could have stronger impacts on ecosystem functioning in the more specialized Neotropical communities compared with the more generalized Afrotropical communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-261
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Beth A. Kaplin and Norbert J. Cordeiro for their guidance and support for P.J.D., who received a travel grant by The Center for Tropical Studies and Conservation (CTEC). L.C. and I.G. were supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation. D.M.D. (DE 2754/1-1), F.S. (HE 3041/20-1), M.Q., V.S., E.L.N. (Research Unit 823-825), and K.B.G., M.S. and M.G.R.V. (FOR 1246) thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for funding. F.A.F.J. acknowledges funding by a CAPES scholarship, N.F. and D.G.S. by the Robert Bosch Foundation, M.G., C.E., A.P. and M.A.P. by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP 2010/52315-7; 2015/15172-7; 2016/18355-8) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico (CNPq), M.C.M. by Doctoral Fellowships from COLCIENCIAS and Rufford, M.S.S. by Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and FONCyT (PICT2013-2759 and PICT2016-0608), P.G.B. by CONICET (PIP 2014-592) and FONCyT (PICT 2013-1280), R.A.R. by a Doctoral Fellowship from CONICET, R.H. and S.T. (IF/00441/2013) and M.C. (SFRH/BD/96050/2013) by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal, and A.T. (CGL2013-44386-P) and D.G. (CGL2015-68963-C2-2-R) by the Spanish government. T. Hovestadt, K. McConkey and two anonymous reviewers commented on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Funding Information:
We thank Beth A. Kaplin and Norbert J. Cordeiro for their guid‐ ance and support for P.J.D., who received a travel grant by The Center for Tropical Studies and Conservation (CTEC). L.C. and I.G. were supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation. D.M.D. (DE 2754/1‐1), F.S. (HE 3041/20‐1), M.Q., V.S., E.L.N. (Research Unit 823‐825), and K.B.G., M.S. and M.G.R.V. (FOR 1246) thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for funding. F.A.F.J. ac‐ knowledges funding by a CAPES scholarship, N.F. and D.G.S. by the Robert Bosch Foundation, M.G., C.E., A.P. and M.A.P. by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP 2010/52315‐7; 2015/15172‐7; 2016/18355‐8) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento CientD?fico (CNPq), M.C.M. by Doctoral Fellowships from COLCIENCIAS and Rufford, M.S.S. by Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones CientD?ficas y Técnicas (CONICET) and FONCyT (PICT2013‐2759 and PICT2016‐0608), P.G.B. by CONICET (PIP 2014‐592) and FONCyT (PICT 2013‐1280), R.A.R. by a Doctoral Fellowship from CONICET, R.H. and S.T. (IF/00441/2013) and M.C. (SFRH/BD/96050/2013) by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal, and A.T. (CGL2013‐44386‐P) and D.G. (CGL2015‐68963‐ C2‐2‐R) by the Spanish government. T. Hovestadt, K. McConkey and

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Keywords

  • Afrotropics
  • birds
  • ecological networks
  • frugivory
  • macroecology
  • mammals
  • mutualism
  • Neotropics
  • seed dispersal

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Seed-dispersal networks are more specialized in the Neotropics than in the Afrotropics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this