Abstract Detail

Tropical Biology

Valverde, Javier [1], Carvalho, Carolina S. [2], Jordano, Pedro [3], Galetti, Mauro [4].

Large herbivores regulate the spatial recruitment of a hyperdominant Neotropical palm.

Theory predicts that herbivores and other natural agents play an important role in shaping the diversity of tropical forests by affecting the survival of seedlings and saplings beneath parent plants. In Neotropical ecosystems the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) is one of the most important agents controlling seed and seedling survival. However, this species is locally extinct in many forest fragments due to poaching, which may affect plant recruitment dynamics. In the Atlantic rainforest, the seeds and seedlings of Euterpe edulis (Arecaceae) is one of the resources most consumed by this mammal, so one of the immediate effects of the disappearance of this mammal would be the alteration of the recruitment patterns of this palm species. We tested the effects of peccary local extinction on the density and spatial recruitment patterns of the hyperdominant palm E. edulis. To do so, we performed a fine-scale characterization of the spatial distribution of this palm in six forest sites in the Brazilian Atlantic forest comprising areas with and without peccaries. We compared the age structure and analyzed the spatial patterns of seedlings, saplings and adults as well as the relationship between them. We did not find differences in the age structure between plots with and without peccaries. However, we observed that in forests where peccaries were present the recruitment rate under adult trees was lower than in those forests where this mammal was locally extinct. This was reflected in a progressive erosion of the clustered spatial pattern as the ontogenetic state progresses. Despite this, both in areas with peccaries and in forests without peccaries the spatial distribution of adults was not affected, being in both cases almost random. Our results indicate that although seed predation and trampling by white-lipped peccaries do not seem to significantly affect the age structure of the population nor the spatial distribution of adult E. edulis stems, they can regulate the fine-scale spatial recruitment patterns of this palm species. This highlights the influence of large-bodied threatened herbivores on the spatial patterns of plant regeneration, since defaunation is one of the major drivers of plant demography and plant regeneration is a critical factor in maintaining species diversity in tropical forests.

Related Links:
Schneider et al. 2019. Convergent Plastome Evolution and Gene Loss in Holoparasitic Lennoaceae.

1 - Research Center In Biodiversity And Genetic Resources, Plant Biology, Campus Agrário De Vairão - Rua Padre Armando Quintas, Nº 7, Vairão, 13, 4485-661, Portugal
2 - Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Genética e Evolução, São Carlos, São Paulo, 13565-905, Brazil
3 - Estación Biológica de Doñana - CISC, Integrative Ecology Group, Av. Americo Vespucio s/n, Sevilla, E-41092, Spain
4 - University of Miai, Biology, Coral Gables, Florida, USA

Atlantic forest
Euterpe edulis
plant recruitment
seed predation.

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P, Tropical Biology Posters
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Thursday, July 30th, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM Time and date to be determined
Number: PTB004
Abstract ID:629
Candidate for Awards:None

Copyright © 2000-2020, Botanical Society of America. All rights reserved