Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Rainforest regeneration

There is a short article in the 19 April 2008 issue of New Scientist about the importance of bats in the regeneration of tropical rainforest. A Google search found that the research paper was published in Biotropica, Journal of tropical biology and conservation, volume 39, issue 4, July 2007. The abstract is copied below verbatim.
“To assess the impact of bats on seed dispersal in a tropical mature forest (Nouragues, French Guiana), we conducted a bat exclusion experiment and tested the hypotheses that an artificial reduction in the abundance of bats would result in: (1) a decrease in seed species diversity, at the community level; and (2) an increase in seed limitation (a failure of seeds to reach all suitable sites for germination) at the species level. Seed rain was sampled in two contiguous forest plots for a total of 120 d, using 49 seed traps (1 m2) arranged in 7 × 7 grids and spaced at 5-m intervals. Using mist nets, bat activity was reduced in one forest plot for a total of 60 nights. Thirty-nine plant species, or species groups, likely to be consumed and dispersed by bats, were collected within a total sample of 50,063 seeds. The overall seed rain was dominated by epiphytic Araceae and Cyclanthaceae (83.3%) and tree species within the genera Cecropia and Ficus (16.0%). Seeds from bat-dispersed shrubs and treelets (Piper, Solanum, and Vismia) were relatively rare (0.7%). The bat exclusion resulted in a 30.5 percent reduction in seed species richness and increased seed limitation for most of the species sampled. Seed limitation was caused mainly by a reduced seed rain (seed source limitation) rather than a decrease in seed dispersal uniformity (seed dispersal limitation). Therefore, bat-dispersed plants with low seed production are likely to be particularly affected by a decline in bat abundance, as a result of anthropogenic change.”

Citation: Mickaƫl Henry, Sylvie Jouard (2007) Effect of Bat Exclusion on Patterns of Seed Rain in Tropical Rain Forest in French Guiana.
Biotropica 39 (4) , 510–518 doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2007.00286.x
First published in the Spring 08 Newsletter.

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