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Data from: Metapopulation dynamics of the mistletoe and its host in savanna areas with different fire occurrence


Teodoro, Grazielle Sales; van den Berg, Eduardo; Arruda, Rafael (2013), Data from: Metapopulation dynamics of the mistletoe and its host in savanna areas with different fire occurrence, Dryad, Dataset,


Mistletoes are aerial hemiparasitic plants which occupy patches of favorable habitat (host trees) surrounded by unfavorable habitat and may be possibly modeled as a metapopulation. A metapopulation is defined as a subdivided population that persists due to the balance between colonization and extinction in discrete habitat patches. Our aim was to evaluate the dynamics of the mistletoe Psittacanthus robustus and its host Vochysia thyrsoidea in three Brazilian savanna areas using a metapopulation approach. We also evaluated how the differences in terms of fire occurrence affected the dynamic of those populations (two areas burned during the study and one was fire protected). We monitored the populations at six-month intervals. P. robustus population structure and dynamics met the expected criteria for a metapopulation: i) the suitable habitats for the mistletoe occur in discrete patches; (ii) local populations went extinct during the study and (iii) colonization of previously non-occupied patches occurred. The ratio of occupied patches decreased in all areas with time. Local mistletoe populations went extinct due to two different causes: patch extinction in area with no fire and fire killing in the burned areas. In a burned area, the largest decrease of occupied patch ratios occurred due to a fire event that killed the parasites without, however, killing the host trees. The greatest mortality of V. thyrsoidea occurred in the area without fire. In this area, all the dead trees supported mistletoe individuals and no mortality was observed for parasite-free trees. Because P. robustus is a fire sensitive species and V. thyrsoidea is fire tolerant, P. robustus seems to increase host mortality, but its effect is lessened by periodic burning that reduces the parasite loads.

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Minas Gerais State