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Gland, Switzerland

Fricke E.C.,University of Washington | Tewksbury J.J.,University of Washington | Tewksbury J.J.,The Luc Hoffmann Institute | Rogers H.S.,Rice University
Ecology Letters

Specialised natural enemies maintain forest diversity by reducing tree survival in a density- or distance-dependent manner. Fungal pathogens, insects and mammals are the enemy types most commonly hypothesised to cause this phenomenon. Still, their relative importance remains largely unknown, as robust manipulative experiments have generally targeted a single enemy type and life history stage. Here, we use fungicide, insecticide and physical exclosure treatments to isolate the impacts of each enemy type on two life history stages (germination and early seedling survival) in three tropical tree species. Distance dependence was evident for five of six species-stage combinations, with each enemy type causing distance dependence for at least one species stage and their importance varying widely between species and stages. Rather than implicating one enemy type as the primary agent of this phenomenon, our field experiments suggest that multiple agents acting at different life stages collectively contribute to this diversity-promoting mechanism. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS. Source

Haddad N.M.,North Carolina State University | Brudvig L.A.,Michigan State University | Damschen E.I.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Evans D.M.,American Association for the Advancement of Science | And 8 more authors.
Conservation Biology

Despite many studies showing that landscape corridors increase dispersal and species richness for disparate taxa, concerns persist that corridors can have unintended negative effects. In particular, some of the same mechanisms that underlie positive effects of corridors on species of conservation interest may also increase the spread and impact of antagonistic species (e.g., predators and pathogens), foster negative effects of edges, increase invasion by exotic species, increase the spread of unwanted disturbances such as fire, or increase population synchrony and thus reduce persistence. We conducted a literature review and meta-analysis to evaluate the prevalence of each of these negative effects. We found no evidence that corridors increase unwanted disturbance or non-native species invasion; however, these have not been well-studied concerns (1 and 6 studies, respectively). Other effects of corridors were more often studied and yielded inconsistent results; mean effect sizes were indistinguishable from zero. The effect of edges on abundances of target species was as likely to be positive as negative. Corridors were as likely to have no effect on antagonists or population synchrony as they were to increase those negative effects. We found 3 deficiencies in the literature. First, despite studies on how corridors affect predators, there are few studies of related consequences for prey population size and persistence. Second, properly designed studies of negative corridor effects are needed in natural corridors at scales larger than those achievable in experimental systems. Third, studies are needed to test more targeted hypotheses about when corridor-mediated effects on invasive species or disturbance may be negative for species of management concern. Overall, we found no overarching support for concerns that construction and maintenance of habitat corridors may result in unintended negative consequences. Negative edge effects may be mitigated by widening corridors or softening edges between corridors and the matrix. Other negative effects are relatively small and manageable compared with the large positive effects of facilitating dispersal and increasing diversity of native species. © 2014 Society for Conservation Biology. Source

Fricke E.C.,University of Washington | Simon M.J.,University of Washington | Reagan K.M.,University of Washington | Levey D.J.,National Science Foundation | And 5 more authors.
Ecology Letters

Seed ingestion by frugivorous vertebrates commonly benefits plants by moving seeds to locations with fewer predators and pathogens than under the parent. For plants with high local population densities, however, movement from the parent plant is unlikely to result in 'escape' from predators and pathogens. Changes to seed condition caused by gut passage may also provide benefits, yet are rarely evaluated as an alternative. Here, we use a common bird-dispersed chilli pepper (Capsicum chacoense) to conduct the first experimental comparison of escape-related benefits to condition-related benefits of animal-mediated seed dispersal. Within chilli populations, seeds dispersed far from parent plants gained no advantage from escape alone, but seed consumption by birds increased seed survival by 370% - regardless of dispersal distance - due to removal during gut passage of fungal pathogens and chemical attractants to granivores. These results call into question the pre-eminence of escape as the primary advantage of dispersal within populations and document two overlooked mechanisms by which frugivores can benefit fruiting plants. © 2013 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and CNRS. Source

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