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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

Number of plant species to which parrots from the dry forest of the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys returned each type of mutualist service.
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ece31663-fig-0003: Number of plant species to which parrots from the dry forest of the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys returned each type of mutualist service.

Mentions: The mutualistic services yielded by parrots to their food plants were primarily in the form of seed dispersal, especially by wasting ripe fruits and their seeds beneath fruiting plants (Fig. 3). An unquantified proportion of mature seeds from fleshy fruits wasted beneath parent plants was partially or completely defleshed by parrots, thus enhancing primary dispersal by abiotic factors (wind, runoff water) or by gravity, with seeds rolling variable distances (e.g., spherical seeds of Anisocapparis speciosa and Jatropha hieronymii rolling several meters from the mother plants after being defleshed by A. rubrogenys). Wasted mature seeds can also be secondarily dispersed by other organisms (Fig. 3). We opportunistically recorded the presence of apparently viable seeds of Ziziphus mistol and A. speciosa in the feces of carnivorous mammals (G. vittata, C. thous), as well as those of Celtis ehrenbergiana, Capparicordis tweediana, P. praecox, Prosopis kuntzei, P. alba, Vachellia aroma, and Z. mistol in feces of free‐ranging livestock. In addition, we observed the secondary dispersal by unidentified ants of mature seeds of Condalia buxifolia wasted by T. acuticaudatus.


Parrots as key multilinkers in ecosystem structure and functioning.

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

Number of plant species to which parrots from the dry forest of the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys returned each type of mutualist service.
© Copyright Policy - creativeCommonsBy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

ece31663-fig-0003: Number of plant species to which parrots from the dry forest of the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys returned each type of mutualist service.
Mentions: The mutualistic services yielded by parrots to their food plants were primarily in the form of seed dispersal, especially by wasting ripe fruits and their seeds beneath fruiting plants (Fig. 3). An unquantified proportion of mature seeds from fleshy fruits wasted beneath parent plants was partially or completely defleshed by parrots, thus enhancing primary dispersal by abiotic factors (wind, runoff water) or by gravity, with seeds rolling variable distances (e.g., spherical seeds of Anisocapparis speciosa and Jatropha hieronymii rolling several meters from the mother plants after being defleshed by A. rubrogenys). Wasted mature seeds can also be secondarily dispersed by other organisms (Fig. 3). We opportunistically recorded the presence of apparently viable seeds of Ziziphus mistol and A. speciosa in the feces of carnivorous mammals (G. vittata, C. thous), as well as those of Celtis ehrenbergiana, Capparicordis tweediana, P. praecox, Prosopis kuntzei, P. alba, Vachellia aroma, and Z. mistol in feces of free‐ranging livestock. In addition, we observed the secondary dispersal by unidentified ants of mature seeds of Condalia buxifolia wasted by T. acuticaudatus.

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