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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

Relationships between species‐specific parrot density (indv./10 ha) and interaction (species) strength with their food plants. The apparently higher species strength than expected from its density of Psilopsiagon aymara, the smallest species in the parrot community, is remarkable.
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ece31663-fig-0004: Relationships between species‐specific parrot density (indv./10 ha) and interaction (species) strength with their food plants. The apparently higher species strength than expected from its density of Psilopsiagon aymara, the smallest species in the parrot community, is remarkable.

Mentions: Species strength, considering the quantitative interaction of each parrot species with their food plants independently of the plant part exploited (Table 1), was positively related to the density of each parrot species in the ecosystem (rs = 0.70, P = 0.036, n = 9, Fig. 4). Similar results were obtained for relative abundance and biomass, though they were marginally significant (rs = 0.65, P = 0.058 and rs = 0.58, P = 0.099, respectively, n = 9) due to the apparent outlier species strength of P. aymara, the smallest species in the parrot community (Table 1, Fig. 4; excluding this species, relative abundance, density, and biomass were significantly related to species strength, all rs > 0.83, all P < 0.01, n = 8). This species showed higher interaction strength than expected from its density (Fig. 4), abundance, and biomass, which supports its specialization on flowers of herbs and shrubs from the understory, in contrast with the trophic pattern based on fruits of trees in the remaining species (Fig. 2).


Parrots as key multilinkers in ecosystem structure and functioning.

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

Relationships between species‐specific parrot density (indv./10 ha) and interaction (species) strength with their food plants. The apparently higher species strength than expected from its density of Psilopsiagon aymara, the smallest species in the parrot community, is remarkable.
© Copyright Policy - creativeCommonsBy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

ece31663-fig-0004: Relationships between species‐specific parrot density (indv./10 ha) and interaction (species) strength with their food plants. The apparently higher species strength than expected from its density of Psilopsiagon aymara, the smallest species in the parrot community, is remarkable.
Mentions: Species strength, considering the quantitative interaction of each parrot species with their food plants independently of the plant part exploited (Table 1), was positively related to the density of each parrot species in the ecosystem (rs = 0.70, P = 0.036, n = 9, Fig. 4). Similar results were obtained for relative abundance and biomass, though they were marginally significant (rs = 0.65, P = 0.058 and rs = 0.58, P = 0.099, respectively, n = 9) due to the apparent outlier species strength of P. aymara, the smallest species in the parrot community (Table 1, Fig. 4; excluding this species, relative abundance, density, and biomass were significantly related to species strength, all rs > 0.83, all P < 0.01, n = 8). This species showed higher interaction strength than expected from its density (Fig. 4), abundance, and biomass, which supports its specialization on flowers of herbs and shrubs from the understory, in contrast with the trophic pattern based on fruits of trees in the remaining species (Fig. 2).

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