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Data from: Forest degradation limits the complementarity and quality of animal seed dispersal

Citation

Rehling, Finn et al. (2022), Data from: Forest degradation limits the complementarity and quality of animal seed dispersal, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wdbrv15q1

Abstract

Forest degradation changes the structural heterogeneity of forests and species communities, with potential consequences for ecosystem functions including seed dispersal by frugivorous animals. While the quantity of seed dispersal may be robust towards forest degradation, changes in the effectiveness of seed dispersal through qualitative changes are poorly understood. Here, we carried out extensive field sampling on the structure of forest microhabitats, seed deposition sites, and plant recruitment along three characteristics of forest microhabitats (canopy cover, ground vegetation, deadwood) in Europe’s last lowland primeval forest (Białowieża, Poland). We then applied niche modelling to study forest degradation effects on multi-dimensional seed deposition by frugivores and recruitment of fleshy-fruited plants. Forest degradation was shown to (1) reduce the niche volume of forest microhabitat characteristics by half, (2) homogenize the spatial seed deposition within and among frugivore species, and (3) limit the regeneration of plants via changes in seed deposition and recruitment. Our study shows that the loss of frugivores in degraded forests is accompanied by a reduction in the complementarity and quality of seed dispersal by remaining frugivores. In contrast, structure-rich habitats, such as old-growth forests, safeguard the diversity of species interactions, forming the basis for high-quality ecosystem functions.

Methods

For more information, see manuscript.

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: FA925/10-1, 10-2

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: BE 6041/1-1

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: SCHA 2085/1-2