Arnan X., Molowny-Horas R., Rodrigo A., Retana J. (2012) Uncoupling the effects of seed predation and seed dispersal by granivorous ants on plant population dynamics. PLoS ONE. 7: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042869
Secondary seed dispersal is an important plant-animal interaction, which is central to understanding plant population and community dynamics. Very little information is still available on the effects of dispersal on plant demography and, particularly, for ant-seed dispersal interactions. As many other interactions, seed dispersal by animals involves costs (seed predation) and benefits (seed dispersal), the balance of which determines the outcome of the interaction. Separate quantification of each of them is essential in order to understand the effects of this interaction. To address this issue, we have successfully separated and analyzed the costs and benefits of seed dispersal by seed-harvesting ants on the plant population dynamics of three shrub species with different traits. To that aim a stochastic, spatially-explicit individually-based simulation model has been implemented based on actual data sets. The results from our simulation model agree with theoretical models of plant response dependent on seed dispersal, for one plant species, and ant-mediated seed predation, for another one. In these cases, model predictions were close to the observed values at field. Nonetheless, these ecological processes did not affect in anyway a third species, for which the model predictions were far from the observed values. This indicates that the balance between costs and benefits associated to secondary seed dispersal is clearly related to specific traits. This study is one of the first works that analyze tradeoffs of secondary seed dispersal on plant population dynamics, by disentangling the effects of related costs and benefits. We suggest analyzing the effects of interactions on population dynamics as opposed to merely analyzing the partners and their interaction strength. © 2012 Arnan et al.
Rodríguez N., Armenteras D., Molowny-Horas R., Retana J. (2012) Patterns and trends of forest loss in the Colombian Guyana. Biotropica. 44: 123-132.LinkDoi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2011.00770.x
Spatial patterns of tropical deforestation and fragmentation are conditional upon human settlement characteristics. We analyze four different human occupation models (indigenous, colonist frontier, transition and established settlement) in the Colombian Guyana Shield at three different times: 1985, 1992 and 2002, and compared them for: (1) deforestation rates; (2) the amount of forest as classified according to a fragmentation pattern (interior forest, edge forest, perforated forest and forest patch); (3) various fragmentation metrics using repeated measures analysis of variance; and (4) potential future deforestation trends though the implementation of a spatially explicit simulation model. The indigenous and colonist frontier occupation models had low rates of deforestation (0.04%/yr), while the well-established settlement occupation model had the highest rate (3.68%/yr). Our results indicate that the four occupation models generate three deforestation patterns: diffuse, which can be subdivided into two subpatterns (indigenous and colonist), geometric (transition) and patchy (established settlement). The area with the established settlement model was highly fragmented, while in the transition occupation area, forest loss was gradual and linked to economic activities associated with the expansion of the agricultural frontier. The simulation of future trends revealed that indigenous and colonist areas had a constant, albeit small, loss of forest covers. The other models had a deforestation probability of 0.8 or more. Overall, our results highlight the need for new and urgent policies for reducing forest conversion that consider intraregional variability in human occupation linked to differences in land-use patterns. © 2011 The Author(s) Journal compilation © 2011 Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
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