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How do frugivores track resources? Insights from spatial analyses of bird foraging in a tropical forest

January 1, 2004

Frugivores often track ripe fruit abundance closely across local areas despite the ephemeral and typically patchy distributions of this resource. We use spatial auto- and cross-correlation analyses to quantify spatial patterns of fruit abundance and avian frugivory across a 4-month period within a forested 4.05-ha study grid in Puerto Rico. Analyses focused on two tanager species, Spindalis portoricensis and Nesospingus speculiferus, and their principal food plants. Three broad questions are addressed: (1) at what spatial scales is fruit abundance and frugivory patchy; (2) at what spatial scales do frugivores respond to fruit abundance; and (3) to what extent do spatial patterns of frugivory overlap between bird species? Fruit patch size, species composition, and heterogeneity was variable among months, despite fruit patch locations remaining relatively consistent between months. Positive correlations between frugivory and fruit abundance suggested tanagers successfully tracked fruit abundance. Frugivory was, however, more localized than fruit abundance. Scales of spatial overlap in frugivory and monthly variation in the foraging locations of the two tanager species suggested that interspecific facilitation may have been important in determining bird foraging locations. In particular, S. portoricensis, a specialist frugivore, may have relied on the loud calls of the gregarious generalist, N. speculiferus, to find new foraging areas. Such a mechanism could help explain the formation of mixed species feeding flocks and highlights the potential importance of facilitation between species that share resources. ?? Springer-Verlag 2004.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2004
Title How do frugivores track resources? Insights from spatial analyses of bird foraging in a tropical forest
DOI 10.1007/s00442-004-1493-7
Authors J.F. Saracco, J.A. Collazo, Martha J. Groom
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Oecologia
Index ID 70027233
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse