Araucaria Forest expansion over grassland takes place under wet climate conditions and low disturbance and it is hypothesized that isolated trees established on grassland facilitate the establishment of forest woody species beneath their canopies. Forest with Araucaria angustifolia is a particular type of Brazilian Atlantic Forest and the main forest type on the highland plateau in south Brazil, often forming mosaics with natural Campos grassland. The objectives of this paper were to evaluate the role of isolated shrubs and trees as colonization sites for seedlings of Araucaria Forest woody species on grassland, to determine which species function as preferential nurse plants in the process and the importance of vertebrate diaspore dispersal on the structure of seedling communities beneath nurse plants. The study was conducted in São Francisco de Paula, Rio Grande do Sul State, where we sampled isolated shrubs and trees in natural grassland near Araucaria Forest edges. Seedlings were counted and identified, and seedling diaspore dispersal syndromes, size and colour were registered. We detected 11 woody species with a potential role in nucleating grassland colonization by forest species. Beneath the canopies of nurse plants more forest species seedlings were found compared with open field grassland and the seedlings had diaspores mostly dispersed by vertebrates. Also, more seedlings were found under the canopy of A. angustifolia than beneath other nurse plant species. We conclude that A. angustifolia trees established on grassland act as nurse plants, by attracting disperser birds that promote colonization of the site by other forest species seedlings, and that under low level of grassland disturbance, conservation of frugivorous vertebrate assemblages may increase forest expansion over natural grassland and also facilitate the regeneration of degraded forest areas.
Aim Body size variation in animal assemblages is a widely addressed pattern in biogeographical studies, and is affected by both environmental gradients and phylogenetic constraints. However, no study has yet explored to what extent the association between body size variation and environmental gradients across broad spatial scales is influenced by the biogeographical distribution of different phylogenetic lineages. In this study, we discriminate the influences of environmental variables and phylogenetic community composition on body size variation in South American sigmodontine rodents.Location South America.Methods We computed the mean body mass of sigmodontine species cooccurring in 1 9 1°cells across South America. For each cell we recorded mean values for three environmental variables. We characterized the phylogenetic composition of sigmodontine assemblages within each cell using phylogenetic fuzzy-weighting and principal coordinates of phylogenetic structure (PCPS). We then partitioned out the influence of environmental factors and the phylogenetic community composition on mean body size.Results Mean body size variation was mostly explained by shared influence of phylogenetic community composition (PCPS) and environmental factors (68%), while exclusive influence of PCPS was low (19%), and of environment was even lower (0.47%). Increases in body size were related to increases in annual mean temperature, and the influence of environment on body size was mediated by the distribution of sigmodontine lineages across South America.Main conclusions Environment alone was not sufficient to explain body size variation in sigmodontine assemblages. Rather, environmental gradients interacted with historical processes to determine body size variation in the Neotropical assemblages. These results have implications for the way we think of body size gradients across species assemblages, because any gradient in a trait may be a result of differences in the biogeographical distribution of lineages across space, which should be considered in an explicit context.
Questions: 1. Do the species composition, richness and diversity of sapling communities vary significantly in differently sized patches? 2. Do forest patches of different sizes differ in woody plant colonization patterns? Location: São Francisco de Paula, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 29°28'S,50°13'W. Methods: Three woody vegetation types, differing in structural development (patch size) and recovering for 10 years from cattle and burning disturbances, were sampled on grassland. We analysed the composition and complexity of the woody sapling communities, through relative abundance, richness and diversity patterns. We also evaluated recruitment status (residents vs. colonizers) of species in communities occurring in different forest patch size classes. Results: 1. There is a compositional gradient in sapling communities strongly associated with forest patch area. 2. Richness and diversity are positively correlated to patch area, but only in poorly structured patches; large patches present richness and diversity values similar to small patches. 3. Resident to colonizer abundance ratio increases from nurse plants to large patches. The species number proportion between residents and colonizers is similar in small and large patches and did not differ between these patch types. 4. Large patches presented a high number of exclusive species, while nurse plants and small patches did not. Conclusions: Woody plant communities in Araucaria forest patches are associated with patch structure development. Richness and diversity patterns are linked to patch colonization patterns. Generalist species colonize the understorey of nurse plants and small patches; resident species cannot recruit many new individuals. In large patches, sapling recruitment by resident adults precludes the immigration of new species into the patches, limiting richness and diversity.
The crab-eating fox, Cerdocyon thous (Linnaeus, 1766), is a small canid with twilight and nocturnal habits from savannas and forests of South America. In this study, we seasonally determined and quantified the diet of C. thous in Lami Biological Reserve, a conservation unit with 179.78ha situated in a suburban area in the municipality of Porto Alegre, southern Brazil. During the year 2000, we collected 80 fecal samples - 20 for each season - in two or three week sampling intervals, along trails inside the Reserve. Samples were dried in an oven for 24h at 60ºC, immersed in 70% alcohol, and prey items were identified using a stereomicroscope. The diet of the crab-eating fox was essentially carnivorous (87.62% composed by vertebrates), with seasonal variation (p = 0.0009) and absence of fruits. Small non-flying mammals and birds were the most frequent prey, being proportionally more preyed in autumn and summer, respectively. Arthropods were more preyed in winter and spring and bird/reptile eggs only in summer and spring, in the reproduction period of these groups.
ABSTRACT. Feeding associations between capybaras Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris (Linnaeus, 1766) and some bird species were registered in the Lami Biological Reserve, southern Brazil, through observations in a set of transects established in the five major vegetation types of the study area: shrubby and herbaceous swamps, wet grasslands, sandy grasslands and forests. Data included: date and time, vegetation type, bird species, number of individuals (birds and capybaras), type of prey consumed, foraging strategy of the birds and the behavior of the capybaras in relation to the presence of birds. Five species of birds were registered: Caracara plancus (Miller, 1777), Furnarius rufus (Gmelin, 1788), Machetornis rixosus (Vieillot, 1819), Milvago chimachima (Vieillot, 1816) and Molothrus bonariensis (Gmelin, 1789). The interactions were observed in the shrubby swamp (M. bonariensis), forest (C. plancus) and wet grassland (F. rufus, M. rixosus, M. chimachima). The foraging strategies were: (1) use of the capybara as a perch, hunting from its back (M. rixosus, M. bonariensis); (2) use of the capybara as a beater, hunting in the ground (F. rufus, M. rixosus, M. bonariensis); (3) foraging in the skin of the capybara, by picking the ectoparasites (C. plancus, F. rufus, M. chimachima). Strategies (1) and (2) were employed to catch arthropods flushed from the vegetation. Sometimes, capybaras lay down and exposed the abdomen and lateral areas of their bodies to facilitate cleaning by M. chimachima, but the presence of other bird species seemed to be neutral to capybaras. KEY WORDS. Bird-mammal interaction, feeding behavior, foraging.
Questions: In a natural grassland‐forest mosaic: What is the influence of phylogeny and diaspore traits related to disperser attraction (DAT) on (1) seed size/number trade‐off (SSNT) in woody species colonizing forest patches; (2) on the frequency of the species? 3. What is the influence of forest patch area on mean seed size and number. 4. Do phylogeny and DAT expressed at the species level affect this relationship? Location: Campos grassland and Araucaria forest in São Francisco de Paula, RS, Brazil, at ca. 29°28’ S; 50° 13’ W. Methods: Forest patches of different sizes in a grassland site recovering for ten years since human disturbances were surveyed by the relative abundance of vertebrate‐dispersed woody saplings. We described colonizer species according to taxonomic phylogenetic relationships and diaspore type, size and color. We analyzed with a variation partitioning method their influence on SSNT and on species frequency in the patches. At the community level we regressed mean seed size and number on forest patch area and evaluated how these relationships were affected by phylogeny and DAT at the species level. Results: 1. Phylogeny and DAT mostly explained seed size and seed number per diaspore variation. 2. By controlling phylogeny and DAT influence the frequency of species in forest patches was positively associated with their seed number in the diaspores, and negatively associated with their seed size. 3. Mean seed size and seed number at the community level were positively associated with patch area. 4. When phylogeny and DAT influences on seed size were removed this relationship was stronger for seed size and weaker for seed number. Conclusions: 1. Energy allocation to dispersal in detriment of offspring survival increased the successful establishment of colonizer species in forest patches, despite phylogenetic relationships and DAT variation in their diaspores. 2. Although patch area exerted a selective pressure on seed size, habitat preferences of dispersers may also influence patch colonization.
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