Connecting Resource Tracking by Frugivores to Temporal Variation in Seed Dispersal Networks
Directed dispersal occurs when seeds are differentially deposited to sites where offspring survivorship is higher than at randomly chosen sites. Traditionally, characteristics of the dispersal target sites that could increase survivorship of the dispersed plants are thought to be intrinsic to the sites. If directed dispersal is constant over extended periods of time, however, it is likely that nonrandom patterns of dispersal could modify the ecological characteristics of the target site in ways that could increase survivorship and fitness of the dispersed plants. Here we report patterns of Piper diversity (richness, equitability, and similarity) and Piper folivory within plots near natural or artificial roosts of Carollia perspicillata vs. similar plots without bat roosts. Plots with bat roosts, both natural and artificial, had significantly higher Piper species diversity. Additionally, we found that plots with a higher Piper species diversity showed less specialist folivory, higher generalist folivory, and lower total herbivore leaf damage than plots with low Piper diversity. Finally, plots with bat roosts also showed less specialist folivory, lower generalist folivory, and lower total folivory when compared to plots without roosts. We propose that long-lasting nonrandom patterns of seed dispersal can change the local ecological characteristics of target sites via changes in plant diversity, and that these changes are likely to reduce the local rates of folivory and, therefore, increase seed and adult plant survivorship.