How to translate text using browser tools
6 January 2022 Frugivorous Bats Promote Epizoochoric Seed Dispersal and Seedling Survival in a Disturbed Neotropical Forest
David Villalobos-Chaves, Bernal Rodríguez-Herrera
Author Affiliations +

Animal-dispersed plants usually rely upon multiple dispersers. In many ecosystems, most of these interactions have yet to be explored; thus, documenting the extent of contribution of each animal partner to the reproduction and survival of plant species is key to understanding the ecology and evolution of animal–plant mutualism, as well as the potential responses of the ecological networks to biodiversity loss through defaunation. Here, by characterizing the outcomes and differences of the epizoochoric seed dispersal carried out by two species of frugivorous bats (Artibeus phaeotis and Uroderma convexum) in a Neotropical forest, we tested the prediction that, through their feeding activity, both bat species disperse and influence the subsequent seedling survival of multiple seed species. By direct sampling on bats' dispersing sites and surrounding areas, we found evidence of the dispersal of 2,310 seeds of eight plant species, of which 118 survived to become seedlings. The total density of seeds and the seedling survival were significantly higher in areas directly influenced by the bats (i.e., feeding roosts) than in peripheral areas. Positive density-dependent effects nevertheless were detected in both sampling areas (feeding roosts and peripheral areas). Interspecific comparisons showed that despite both bat species having similar dispersal outcomes, seedlings in peripheral areas related to A. phaeotis have better survival rates. Our results demonstrate that both bat species primarily disperse by epizoochoric means seeds of various tree species at several localities in the study site. This result, together with the positive density-dependent effects, suggests that bats are moving seeds away from maternal trees and depositing them in locations where some of the seeds can germinate, establish, and survive, thereby highlighting the positive contribution of these bat species to the reproductive success of trees inhabiting Neotropical habitats. Our results contribute to the growing knowledge of frugivorous interactions on hyperdiverse forests and the role of small vertebrates on seed dispersal mutualisms.

David Villalobos-Chaves and Bernal Rodríguez-Herrera "Frugivorous Bats Promote Epizoochoric Seed Dispersal and Seedling Survival in a Disturbed Neotropical Forest," Journal of Mammalogy 102(6), 1507-1513, (6 January 2022).
Received: 18 January 2021; Accepted: 16 September 2021; Published: 6 January 2022
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
feeding roost
Get copyright permission
Back to Top