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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

(A) Mean ± SE dominance index of woody plant species (trees and shrubs) in the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys ecosystem according to growth form, fruit type, and use and extent of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants). (B) Relationship between the plant dominance index and the number of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants) when the analysis was restricted to woody plants on which parrots exert at least one mutualistic function. Regression line of the correlation was shown for graphical representation of the trend.
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ece31663-fig-0006: (A) Mean ± SE dominance index of woody plant species (trees and shrubs) in the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys ecosystem according to growth form, fruit type, and use and extent of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants). (B) Relationship between the plant dominance index and the number of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants) when the analysis was restricted to woody plants on which parrots exert at least one mutualistic function. Regression line of the correlation was shown for graphical representation of the trend.

Mentions: The use and qualitative extent of mutualistic functions provided by parrots increased with the dominance index of each woody plant species in the ecosystem (fixed factor with three levels: 0 = unused plants, 1 = plants used without mutualistic services by parrots, 2 = plants receiving one or more mutualistic functions, Wald χ2 = 18.09, P < 0.0001, df = 2, Fig. 6A). The plant dominance index was higher for shrubs than trees (Wald χ2 = 4.51, P = 0.034, df = 1, Fig. 6A), but did not differ depending on fruit type (fleshy or dry, Wald χ2 = 1.01, P = 0.32, df = 1, Fig. 6A). When the analysis was restricted to woody plants on which parrots exert at least one mutualistic function, the plant dominance index increased significantly with the number of mutualistic functions provided by parrots (rs = 0.333, P = 0.022, n = 47, Fig. 6B).


Parrots as key multilinkers in ecosystem structure and functioning.

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

(A) Mean ± SE dominance index of woody plant species (trees and shrubs) in the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys ecosystem according to growth form, fruit type, and use and extent of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants). (B) Relationship between the plant dominance index and the number of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants) when the analysis was restricted to woody plants on which parrots exert at least one mutualistic function. Regression line of the correlation was shown for graphical representation of the trend.
© Copyright Policy - creativeCommonsBy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

ece31663-fig-0006: (A) Mean ± SE dominance index of woody plant species (trees and shrubs) in the Bolivian inter‐Andean valleys ecosystem according to growth form, fruit type, and use and extent of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants). (B) Relationship between the plant dominance index and the number of mutualistic functions provided by parrots to their food plants (Mutualistic Interactionsplants) when the analysis was restricted to woody plants on which parrots exert at least one mutualistic function. Regression line of the correlation was shown for graphical representation of the trend.
Mentions: The use and qualitative extent of mutualistic functions provided by parrots increased with the dominance index of each woody plant species in the ecosystem (fixed factor with three levels: 0 = unused plants, 1 = plants used without mutualistic services by parrots, 2 = plants receiving one or more mutualistic functions, Wald χ2 = 18.09, P < 0.0001, df = 2, Fig. 6A). The plant dominance index was higher for shrubs than trees (Wald χ2 = 4.51, P = 0.034, df = 1, Fig. 6A), but did not differ depending on fruit type (fleshy or dry, Wald χ2 = 1.01, P = 0.32, df = 1, Fig. 6A). When the analysis was restricted to woody plants on which parrots exert at least one mutualistic function, the plant dominance index increased significantly with the number of mutualistic functions provided by parrots (rs = 0.333, P = 0.022, n = 47, Fig. 6B).

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