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Quantifying species contributions to ecosystem processes: a global assessment of functional trait and phylogenetic metrics across avian seed-dispersal networks

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Title: Quantifying species contributions to ecosystem processes: a global assessment of functional trait and phylogenetic metrics across avian seed-dispersal networks
Author(s): Pigot, AL
Bregman, T
Sheard, C
Daly, B
Etienne, RS
Tobias, JA
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Quantifying the role of biodiversity in ecosystems not only requires understanding the links between species and the ecological functions and services they provide, but also how these factors relate to measurable indices, such as functional traits and phylogenetic diversity. However, these relationships remain poorly understood, especially for heterotrophic organisms within complex ecological networks. Here, we assemble data on avian traits across a global sample of mutualistic plant–frugivore networks to critically assess how the functional roles of frugivores are associated with their intrinsic traits, as well as their evolutionary and functional distinctiveness. We find strong evidence for niche complementarity, with phenotypically and phylogenetically distinct birds interacting with more unique sets of plants. However, interaction strengths—the number of plant species dependent on a frugivore—were unrelated to evolutionary or functional distinctiveness, largely because distinct frugivores tend to be locally rare, and thus have fewer connections across the network. Instead, interaction strengths were better predicted by intrinsic traits, including body size, gape width and dietary specialization. Our analysis provides general support for the use of traits in quantifying species ecological functions, but also highlights the need to go beyond simple metrics of functional or phylogenetic diversity to consider the multiple pathways through which traits may determine ecological processes.
Publication Date: 7-Dec-2016
Date of Acceptance: 17-Oct-2016
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/44584
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.1597
ISSN: 0962-8452
Publisher: Royal Society, The
Journal / Book Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume: 283
Issue: 1844
Copyright Statement: © 2016 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Biology
Ecology
Evolutionary Biology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine - Other Topics
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
ecological network
ecosystem function
functional diversity
mutualistic interaction
phylogenetic diversity
seed dispersal
LAND-USE
TERRESTRIAL BIODIVERSITY
MUTUALISTIC NETWORKS
PLANETARY BOUNDARY
DIVERSITY
CONSERVATION
DRIVES
BIRDS
COMPLEMENTARITY
SPECIALIZATION
ecological network
ecosystem function
functional diversity
mutualistic interaction
phylogenetic diversity
seed dispersal
06 Biological Sciences
11 Medical And Health Sciences
07 Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: ARTN 20161597
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences



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