[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Restoration of tropical forest depended in large part on seed dispersal by fruit-eating animals that transported seeds into planted forest patches. We tested effectiveness of dispersal agents as revealed by established recruits of tree and shrub species that bore seeds dispersed by birds, bats, or both. We documented restoration of dispersal processes over the first 76 months of experimental restoration in southern Mexico. Mixed-model repeated-measures randomized-block ANOVAs of seedlings recruited into experimental controls and mixed-species plantings from late-secondary and mature forest indicated that bats and birds played different roles in the first years of a restoration process. Bats dispersed pioneer tree and shrub species to slowly regenerating grassy areas, while birds mediated recruitment of later-successional species into planted stands of trees and to a lesser extent into controls. Of species of pioneer trees and shrubs established in plots, seven were primarily dispersed by birds, three by bats and four by both birds and bats. Of later-successional species recruited past the seedling stage, 13 were of species primarily dispersed by birds, and six were of species dispersed by both birds and bats. No later-successional species primarily dispersed by bats established in control or planted plots. Establishment of recruited seedlings was ten-fold higher under cover of planted trees than in grassy controls. Even pre-reproductive trees drew fruit-eating birds and the seeds that they carried from nearby forest, and provided conditions for establishment of shade-tolerant tree species. Overall, after 76 months of cattle exclusion, 94% of the recruited shrubs and trees in experimental plots were of species that we did not plant.
PLoS ONE 08/2014; 9(8):e104656. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0104656 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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Human activities, particularly agriculture, have transformed much of the world's terrestrial environment. Within these anthropogenic landscapes, a variety of relictual and semi-natural habitats exist, which we term countryside elements. The habitat value of countryside elements (hereafter termed 'elements') is increasingly recognised. We quantify the relative value of four kinds of such 'elements' (linear roadside remnants, native vegetation patches, scattered trees and tree plantings) used by a threatened Australian arboreal marsupial, the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis). We examined relationships between home range size and the availability of each 'element' and whether the usage was relative to predicted levels of use. The use of 'elements' by gliders was largely explained by their availability, but there was a preference for native vegetation patches and scattered trees. We found home range size was significantly smaller with increasing area of scattered trees and a contrasting effect with increasing area of linear roadside remnants or native vegetation patches. Our work showed that each 'element' was used and as such had a role in the conservation of the squirrel glider, but their relative value varied. We illustrate the need to assess the conservation value of countryside elements so they can be incorporated into the holistic management of agricultural landscapes. This work demonstrates the disproportional value of scattered trees, underscoring the need to specifically incorporate and/or enhance the protection and recruitment of scattered trees in biodiversity conservation policy and management.
PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e107178. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0107178 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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