Context-dependency and anthropogenic effects on individual plant-frugivore networks

23 December 2017

Miguel, Maria Florencia; Jordano, Pedro; Tabeni, Solana; Campos, Claudia

Anthropogenic activities, such as grazing by domestic animals, are considered drivers of environmental changes that may influence the structure of interaction networks. The study of individual-based networks allows testing how species-level interaction patterns emerge from the pooled interaction modes of individuals within populations. Exponential random graph models (ERGMs) examine the global structure of networks by allowing the inclusion of specific node (i.e. interacting partners) properties as explanatory covariates. Here we assessed the structure of individual plant-frugivore interaction networks and the ecological variables that influence the mode of interactions under different land-use (grazed vs ungrazed protected areas). We quantified the number of visits, the number of fruits removed per visit and the interaction strength of mammal frugivore species at each individual tree. Additionally we quantified ecological variables at the individual, microhabitat, neighborhood and habitat scales that generated interaction network structure under the different land uses. Individual plant-frugivore networks were significantly modular in both land uses but the number of modules was higher in the grazed areas. We found interaction networks for grazed and ungrazed lands were structured by phenotypic traits of individual trees, by the microhabitat beneath the tree canopy and were affected by habitat modifications of anthropogenic origin. The neighborhood surrounding each individual plant influenced plant-frugivore interactions only at the grazed-land trees. We conclude that anthropogenic land uses influence the topological patterns of plant-frugivore networks and the frugivore visitation to trees through modification of both habitat complexity and the ecological traits underlying interactions between individual plants and frugivore species.