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Data from: The loss of functional diversity: a detrimental influence of landscape-scale deforestation on tree reproductive traits

Cite this dataset

Rocha-Santos, Larissa et al. (2019). Data from: The loss of functional diversity: a detrimental influence of landscape-scale deforestation on tree reproductive traits [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Agricultural activities such as crop production and cattle ranching are rapidly replacing forests worldwide, especially in the tropics. Resulting forest loss can adversely affect biodiversity in many ways, including trajectories of community reassembly, community composition, forest structural profiles, and taxonomic diversity. Yet, effects of forest loss on specific ecosystem functions remain limited. Processes closely linked with tree reproduction, such as pollination and seed dispersal are of paramount importance for many ecological functions in tropical forests. Disruption in these processes is known to delay or change forest regeneration, diversity, and structural dynamics. 2. To explore how reproductive and dispersal traits are being altered by landscape-scale deforestation, we surveyed and compiled trait data for tree communities in 20 tropical Atlantic rainforest remnants in northeastern Brazil, across a gradient of deforested landscapes, each retaining 3 to 93% forest cover. 3. The functional richness of reproductive plant attributes decreased as the amount of forest cover decreased, while divergence increased along the same gradient. Loss of forest cover disproportionately affected certain dispersal and reproductive attributes, with most heavily impacted functional attributes including: brief flowering duration, hermaphrodite sexual system, and zoochoric dispersal mode. We identified a clear threshold at 25-30% of forest cover, below which, reproductive attributes disappeared more quickly than expect from forest remnants. 4. Synthesis. Deforestation may impair tree community functional diversity, particularly by decreasing the number of functions and increasing certain functional reproductive attributes that are particularly successful in disturbed habitats. Under scenarios of extensive deforestation, changes to reproductive and dispersal trait profile of forest communities suggest that profound modifications in the availability of floral and seed resources are likely to be substantial. Such extensive changes to food supply of pollinating and dispersing animals suggest carry-over effects to the fauna of these important forest systems.

Usage notes


Tropical Forest
Northeastern Brazil
Altantic Forest