Ecological studies on seed dispersal networks : insights from a diverse tropical ecosystem
- Mutualisms between animals and plants, such as pollination, seed dispersal and ant-plant protection, are key ecological processes in many ecosystems throughout the world. Like any other ecological interaction, plant-animal mutualisms occur in a community context. Therefore, one-to-one interactions are very rare in nature and the majority of species, both animals and plants, have more than one partner. Recently, studies on mutualistic interactions at the community level have used the "network approach" in order to simplify complex interactions and to determine both the pattern of interaction and the properties of species in networks. In this dissertation, I use network theory combined with long-term field work, phylogenetic and multivariate analysis, species extinctions simulations and experimental manipulation to identify the pattern of interaction in a seed dispersal network, to assess the contribution of particular animal species to network stability and robustness, and to address the extent to which seed dispersal interactions can structure plant communities. To do so, I studied a hyper-diverse seed dispersal network sampled in the Brazilian Pantanal, which includes interactions among plant species from 28 families and seed dispersers, both native and exotic species, from 25 families and 4 taxonomic groups. This study contributes novel information on seed dispersal at the community level, especially because I examined a diverse and relatively complete seed dispersal network, which may provide insights for other diverse systems, especially in the tropics. Besides generating information on the ecology and evolution of plant-animal interactions, this study also shows that not all seed disperser species are equal at the community level; and body size of dispersers seem to be a useful proxy of relative importance for dispersal services. Since contemporary defaunation differentially affects species depending on body size, this work illustrates how human activities, such as hunting, land use and climate change, affect not only taxa, but also crucial processes in which animals of different body size play different roles. This study emphasizes that conservation science needs to look at the conservation of ecological processes driven by species interactions.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Donatti, Camila Iotte
|Stanford University, Department of Biology.
|Boggs, Carol L
|Boggs, Carol L
|Statement of responsibility
|Camila Iotte Donatti.
|Submitted to the Department of Biology.
|Ph.D. Stanford University 2011
- © 2011 by Camila Iotte Donatti
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
Also listed in
Loading usage metrics...