Habitat loss and hunting are important drivers of mammal defaunation, affecting not only species presence but also their ecological roles. Frugivory is a key biotic interaction in the tropics due to its wide representation among mammals and its effects on forest dynamics. We assessed how human disturbance affects interactions between mammalian frugivores and Attalea butyracea fruit deposited on the forest floor by comparing visits to palms at two sites with contrasting levels of human disturbance (non–disturbed vs. disturbed sites) in the Lacandon rainforest in southern Mexico. Using camera traps, we recorded mammal species interacting with fruit and estimated their interaction strength. The frugivore ensemble was richer in the non–disturbed forest (nine species) than in the disturbed forest (four species), which lacked the largest body–sized mammals. Large–bodied mammals showed a stronger interaction with fruit in terms of the frequency and length of their visits. Our study highlights the need to undertake conservation actions not only to ensure that the species are maintained in disturbed forests but also to ensure that their biotic interactions remain unchanged.
Habitat fragmentation, Mammalian frugivory, Ground–dwelling mammals, Large–sized fruit
Reception date: 3 II 21 | Acceptation date: 17 X 21 | Publication date: 09 XI 21
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