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21 April 2015 Mutualistic and predatory interactions are driven by rodent body size and seed traits in a rodent–seed system in warm-temperate forest in northern China
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Abstract

Context . Mutualistic interactions between animals and plants shape the structure of plant–animal systems and, subsequently, affect plant-community structure and regeneration.

Aims . To assess the effects of plant and rodent functional traits on the formation of mutualistic and predatory interactions regarding seed dispersal and predation in a warm-temperate forest.

Methods . Seed scatter-hoarding and predation by six sympatric rodent species on seeds belonging to five sympatric tree species were tested under enclosure conditions.

Key results . Functional traits (i.e. rodent body size and seed traits) are important to mutualism/predation in this seed–rodent system. The rodent–seed network is highly nested: large-sized rodents have mutualistic or predatory interactions with both large- and small-sized seed species, but small-sized rodents interacted with small-sized seed species only. Large seeds or seeds with hard coats enhanced mutualism and reduced predation.

Conclusion . Body size of rodents and seed traits such as handling time and nutritional value are key factors in the formation of mutualistic and predatory interactions within seed–rodent systems.

Implications . To promote seedling establishment in degenerated forests, introducing or protecting large-sized scatter hoarders and reducing the density of pure seed eaters are needed.

© CSIRO 2015
Hongmao Zhang, Zhenzhen Wang, Qinghuan Zeng, Gang Chang, Zhenyu Wang, and Zhibin Zhang "Mutualistic and predatory interactions are driven by rodent body size and seed traits in a rodent–seed system in warm-temperate forest in northern China," Wildlife Research 42(2), 149-157, (21 April 2015). https://doi.org/10.1071/WR14211
Received: 15 October 2014; Accepted: 1 December 2014; Published: 21 April 2015
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