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Data from: Are fragments fruitful? A comparison of plant–seed disperser communities between fragments and contiguous forest in north-east India

Citation

Jain, Abir; Page, Navendu V.; Rawat, Gopal S.; Naniwadekar, Rohit (2021), Data from: Are fragments fruitful? A comparison of plant–seed disperser communities between fragments and contiguous forest in north-east India, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.x69p8czj0

Abstract

Plant–seed disperser interactions are critical for maintaining tropical plant diversity. However, these interactions are altered by habitat fragmentation, a pervasive threat to the tropics globally. We compared vegetation structure, richness and composition of plantseed disperser interactions across two forest fragments (area: ~25 km2), and one contiguous forest site in the last remaining lowland tropical forests in north-east India. We compared network-level indices (nestedness, generality, and vulnerability) and species-level indices (degree and species strength) to identify key plant and bird groups across the three sites. We found that the sites varied in habitat structure. The three sites were more similar in the composition of avian seed dispersers than plants. The low similarity in plant-seed disperser interactions between the three sites was likely influenced by low similarity in fruiting plants. The fragmented sites exhibited fewer pairwise interactions and were characterized by a higher representation of small-seeded plant species, climbers, and open-forest birds. Small-bodied birds (bulbuls and barbets) played a central role in all the seed dispersal networks, while large-bodied birds (hornbills) performed persistent interactions with large-seeded plants at all sites. This is one of the first studies from the Asian tropics to investigate the differences in the plant–avian seed disperser communities between forest fragments and contiguous forest. Our findings highlight the conservation value of fragments given their potential to hold a distinct set of plant–seed disperser interactions thereby maintaining functional diversity in tropical fragmented landscapes.

Usage Notes

This project contains data from a study that compared plant–avian seed disperser interactions between two fragments (FF1; FF2) and a contiguous forest (CF) in the lowland tropical rainforests of Upper Assam, north-east India. The study was carried out between January 2019 and April 2019 by Abir Jain, Navendu Page, G.S. Rawat of the Wildlife Institute of India, and Rohit Naniwadekar of the Nature Conservation Foundation. 

The dataset comprises all the files used for carrying out the analyses. 

The information regarding each file is included in the readme file: 'README_Jain_etal_info.txt'.

The description of all columns heads in each of the file is included in: '0_datafiles_column_names_description.csv'.

Funding

Wildlife Institute of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change