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Context-dependency of a complex fruit-frugivore mutualism: temporal variation in crop size and neighborhood effects

Prasad, Soumya and Sukumar, R (2010) Context-dependency of a complex fruit-frugivore mutualism: temporal variation in crop size and neighborhood effects. In: Oikos, 119 (3). pp. 514-523.

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The quantity of fruit consumed by dispersers is highly variable among individuals within plant populations. The outcome Of Such selection operated by firugivores has been examined mostly with respect to changing spatial contexts. The influence of varying temporal contexts on frugivore choice, and their possible demographic and evolutionary consequences is poorly understood. We examined if temporal variation in fruit availability across a hierarchy of nested temporal levels (interannual, intraseasonal, 120 h, 24 h) altered frugivore choice for a complex seed dispersal system in dry tropical forests of southern India. The interactions between Phyllanthus emblica and its primary disperser (ruminants) was mediated by another frugivore (a primate),which made large quantities of fruit available on the ground to ruminants. The direction and strength of crop size and neighborhood effects on this interaction varied with changing temporal contexts.Fruit availability was higher in the first of the two study years, and at the start of the season in both years. Fruit persistence on trees,determined by primate foraging, was influenced by crop size andconspecific neighborhood densities only in the high fruit availability year. Fruit removal by ruminants was influenced by crop size in both years and neighborhood densities only in the high availability year. In both years, these effects were stronger at the start of the season.Intraseasonal reduction in fruit availability diminished inequalities in fruit removal by ruminants and the influence of crop size and fruiting neighborhoods. All trees were not equally attractive to frugivores in a P. emblica population at all points of time. Temporal asymmetry in frugivore-mediated selection could reduce potential for co-evolution between firugivores and plants by diluting selective pressures. Inter-dependencies; formed between disparate animal consumers can add additional levels of complexity to plant-frugivore mutualistic networks and have potential reproductive consequences for specific individuals within populations.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Oikos
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to John Wiley & Sons.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2010 09:12
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 05:59
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/26952

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