Skip to main content

Data for: Exploitation competition between seed predators and dispersers introduced to Hawaiian forests


Case, Samuel (2023), Data for: Exploitation competition between seed predators and dispersers introduced to Hawaiian forests, Dryad, Dataset,


Exploitation competition occurs when one group of organisms reduces the availability of a resource for another group of organisms. For instance, plants produce a certain number of fruits for seed dispersal by fruit-eating animals (hereafter frugivores), and fruit consumption by one group of frugivores can reduce the number of fruits available for other frugivores. However, it is uncertain whether exploitation competition is common among frugivores, particularly in novel ecosystems, where food resources are generally thought to be abundant and invasive species are dietary generalists. In a novel ecosystem in Hawai‘i, we used gut passage experiments with captive birds to identify roles of introduced frugivores and found they were either distinctly seed dispersers or predators. We then experimentally tested how frugivory by seed predators influenced frugivory by seed dispersers. Specifically, we used exclosures around fruiting plants that blocked seed predator access, while permitting seed disperser access, and we had two control treatments that allowed for access by all frugivores (n=139 plants). When seed predators were excluded from plants, there was more frugivory by dispersers compared to controls, and results varied by year and plant species. Overall, we show that introduced frugivores occupied distinct ecological roles (seed predator or seed disperser), exploitation competition occurred between these introduced frugivore groups, and seed predators had both direct (via seed destruction) and indirect (via reduction in frugivory by dispersers) effects on seed dispersal. Thus, in this novel ecosystem, multiple frugivory is subtractive, and competition for fruit between introduced seed predators and seed dispersers scales up to affect invasions and the conservation of native flora. 


National Science Foundation