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Parrots as key multilinkers in ecosystem structure and functioning.

Blanco G, Hiraldo F, Rojas A, Dénes FV, Tella JL - Ecol Evol (2015)

Bottom Line: Mutually enhancing organisms can become reciprocal determinants of their distribution, abundance, and demography and thus influence ecosystem structure and dynamics.The number of complementary and redundant mutualistic functions provided by parrots to each plant species was positively related to the number of different kinds of food extracted from them.These mutually enhancing interactions were reflected in species-level properties (e.g., biomass or dominance) of both partners, as a likely consequence of the temporal convergence of eco-(co)evolutionary dynamics shaping the ongoing structure and organization of the ecosystem.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Evolutionary Ecology Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales CSIC José Gutiérrez Abascal 2 28006 Madrid Spain.

ABSTRACT
Mutually enhancing organisms can become reciprocal determinants of their distribution, abundance, and demography and thus influence ecosystem structure and dynamics. In addition to the prevailing view of parrots (Psittaciformes) as plant antagonists, we assessed whether they can act as plant mutualists in the dry tropical forest of the Bolivian inter-Andean valleys, an ecosystem particularly poor in vertebrate frugivores other than parrots (nine species). We hypothesised that if interactions between parrots and their food plants evolved as primarily or facultatively mutualistic, selection should have acted to maximize the strength of their interactions by increasing the amount and variety of resources and services involved in particular pairwise and community-wide interaction contexts. Food plants showed different growth habits across a wide phylogenetic spectrum, implying that parrots behave as super-generalists exploiting resources differing in phenology, type, biomass, and rewards from a high diversity of plants (113 species from 38 families). Through their feeding activities, parrots provided multiple services acting as genetic linkers, seed facilitators for secondary dispersers, and plant protectors, and therefore can be considered key mutualists with a pervasive impact on plant assemblages. The number of complementary and redundant mutualistic functions provided by parrots to each plant species was positively related to the number of different kinds of food extracted from them. These mutually enhancing interactions were reflected in species-level properties (e.g., biomass or dominance) of both partners, as a likely consequence of the temporal convergence of eco-(co)evolutionary dynamics shaping the ongoing structure and organization of the ecosystem. A full assessment of the, thus far largely overlooked, parrot-plant mutualisms and other ecological linkages could change the current perception of the role of parrots in the structure, organization, and functioning of ecosystems.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Endemic parrot species (A) Ara rubrogenys and (B) Myiopsitta luchsi; subspecies (C) Pyrrhura molinae molinae and (D) Thectocercus acuticaudatus neumanni; and the smallest species (E) Psilopsiagon aymara in the parrot community from the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys. Photographs by Héctor Garrido (A, B), Manuel de la Riva (C, D), and José L. Tella (E).
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ece31663-fig-0001: Endemic parrot species (A) Ara rubrogenys and (B) Myiopsitta luchsi; subspecies (C) Pyrrhura molinae molinae and (D) Thectocercus acuticaudatus neumanni; and the smallest species (E) Psilopsiagon aymara in the parrot community from the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys. Photographs by Héctor Garrido (A, B), Manuel de la Riva (C, D), and José L. Tella (E).

Mentions: The study focuses on the nine parrot species that can be regularly observed in the study area (Table 1, Fig. 1). Among them, Ara rubrogenys, Myiopsitta luchsi, and the subspecies Thectocercus acuticaudatus neumanni and Pyrrhura molinae molinae are endemic to the study area. One species (Arantinga leucopthalmus) observed on a single occasion was excluded from the analysis. Other rare parrot species (Ara militaris, Amazona tucumana) have been recorded occasionally in the study area, moving from the neighboring montane and Yungas forests, but were not recorded in the present study.


Parrots as key multilinkers in ecosystem structure and functioning.

Blanco G, Hiraldo F, Rojas A, Dénes FV, Tella JL - Ecol Evol (2015)

Endemic parrot species (A) Ara rubrogenys and (B) Myiopsitta luchsi; subspecies (C) Pyrrhura molinae molinae and (D) Thectocercus acuticaudatus neumanni; and the smallest species (E) Psilopsiagon aymara in the parrot community from the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys. Photographs by Héctor Garrido (A, B), Manuel de la Riva (C, D), and José L. Tella (E).
© Copyright Policy - creativeCommonsBy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4588639&req=5

ece31663-fig-0001: Endemic parrot species (A) Ara rubrogenys and (B) Myiopsitta luchsi; subspecies (C) Pyrrhura molinae molinae and (D) Thectocercus acuticaudatus neumanni; and the smallest species (E) Psilopsiagon aymara in the parrot community from the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys. Photographs by Héctor Garrido (A, B), Manuel de la Riva (C, D), and José L. Tella (E).
Mentions: The study focuses on the nine parrot species that can be regularly observed in the study area (Table 1, Fig. 1). Among them, Ara rubrogenys, Myiopsitta luchsi, and the subspecies Thectocercus acuticaudatus neumanni and Pyrrhura molinae molinae are endemic to the study area. One species (Arantinga leucopthalmus) observed on a single occasion was excluded from the analysis. Other rare parrot species (Ara militaris, Amazona tucumana) have been recorded occasionally in the study area, moving from the neighboring montane and Yungas forests, but were not recorded in the present study.

Bottom Line: Mutually enhancing organisms can become reciprocal determinants of their distribution, abundance, and demography and thus influence ecosystem structure and dynamics.The number of complementary and redundant mutualistic functions provided by parrots to each plant species was positively related to the number of different kinds of food extracted from them.These mutually enhancing interactions were reflected in species-level properties (e.g., biomass or dominance) of both partners, as a likely consequence of the temporal convergence of eco-(co)evolutionary dynamics shaping the ongoing structure and organization of the ecosystem.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Evolutionary Ecology Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales CSIC José Gutiérrez Abascal 2 28006 Madrid Spain.

ABSTRACT
Mutually enhancing organisms can become reciprocal determinants of their distribution, abundance, and demography and thus influence ecosystem structure and dynamics. In addition to the prevailing view of parrots (Psittaciformes) as plant antagonists, we assessed whether they can act as plant mutualists in the dry tropical forest of the Bolivian inter-Andean valleys, an ecosystem particularly poor in vertebrate frugivores other than parrots (nine species). We hypothesised that if interactions between parrots and their food plants evolved as primarily or facultatively mutualistic, selection should have acted to maximize the strength of their interactions by increasing the amount and variety of resources and services involved in particular pairwise and community-wide interaction contexts. Food plants showed different growth habits across a wide phylogenetic spectrum, implying that parrots behave as super-generalists exploiting resources differing in phenology, type, biomass, and rewards from a high diversity of plants (113 species from 38 families). Through their feeding activities, parrots provided multiple services acting as genetic linkers, seed facilitators for secondary dispersers, and plant protectors, and therefore can be considered key mutualists with a pervasive impact on plant assemblages. The number of complementary and redundant mutualistic functions provided by parrots to each plant species was positively related to the number of different kinds of food extracted from them. These mutually enhancing interactions were reflected in species-level properties (e.g., biomass or dominance) of both partners, as a likely consequence of the temporal convergence of eco-(co)evolutionary dynamics shaping the ongoing structure and organization of the ecosystem. A full assessment of the, thus far largely overlooked, parrot-plant mutualisms and other ecological linkages could change the current perception of the role of parrots in the structure, organization, and functioning of ecosystems.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus