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Changes of community composition at multiple trophic levels due to hunting in Nigerian tropical forest

Effiom, Edu; Birkhofer, Klaus LU ; Smith, Henrik G. LU and Olsson, Ola LU (2014) In Ecography 37. p.367-377
Abstract
Hunting in tropical forests decimates large mammals, and this may have direct and indirect effects on other trophic levels and lead to trophic cascades. We compared replicated sites of hunted and protected forests in southeastern Nigeria, with respect to community composition of primates, other mammals, birds, plant seedlings, and mature trees. We make predictions regarding the community composition at the different trophic levels. In forests where large primates are rare, we hypothesize that their ecological role will not be fully compensated for by small frugivores. We apply multivariate methods to assess changes in community composition of mammals, birds, and seedlings, controlling for any differences between sites in the other groups,... (More)
Hunting in tropical forests decimates large mammals, and this may have direct and indirect effects on other trophic levels and lead to trophic cascades. We compared replicated sites of hunted and protected forests in southeastern Nigeria, with respect to community composition of primates, other mammals, birds, plant seedlings, and mature trees. We make predictions regarding the community composition at the different trophic levels. In forests where large primates are rare, we hypothesize that their ecological role will not be fully compensated for by small frugivores. We apply multivariate methods to assess changes in community composition of mammals, birds, and seedlings, controlling for any differences between sites in the other groups, including mature trees. Medium and large (4–180 kg) primates were much rarer in hunted sites, while porcupine and rock hyrax increased in abundance with hunting. In contrast, the community composition of birds was similar in both types of forests. Seedling communities were significantly related to the community composition of mammals, and thus strongly affected by hunting. In protected forests primate dispersed plant seedling species dominated, whereas in hunted forests the seedling community was shifted towards one dominated by abiotically dispersed species. This was probably both a consequence of reduced seed dispersal by primates, and increased seed predation by rodents and hyrax. Hence we found no evidence for buffering effects on tree regeneration through functional compensation by non-hunted animals (such as birds). Our results highlight how seedling communities are changed by the complex plant–animal intera ctions, triggered by the loss of seed dispersers. The results predict a rarity of primate-dispersed trees in future tropical forest canopies; a forest less diverse in timber and non-timber resources.
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Ecography
volume
37
pages
367 - 377
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:84897110220
ISSN
1600-0587
DOI
10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00359.x
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0c9f86b3-e8ec-4be9-8e5d-454868d549e6
date added to LUP
2017-07-11 10:44:34
date last changed
2017-08-13 05:10:03
@article{0c9f86b3-e8ec-4be9-8e5d-454868d549e6,
  abstract     = {Hunting in tropical forests decimates large mammals, and this may have direct and indirect effects on other trophic levels and lead to trophic cascades. We compared replicated sites of hunted and protected forests in southeastern Nigeria, with respect to community composition of primates, other mammals, birds, plant seedlings, and mature trees. We make predictions regarding the community composition at the different trophic levels. In forests where large primates are rare, we hypothesize that their ecological role will not be fully compensated for by small frugivores. We apply multivariate methods to assess changes in community composition of mammals, birds, and seedlings, controlling for any differences between sites in the other groups, including mature trees. Medium and large (4–180 kg) primates were much rarer in hunted sites, while porcupine and rock hyrax increased in abundance with hunting. In contrast, the community composition of birds was similar in both types of forests. Seedling communities were significantly related to the community composition of mammals, and thus strongly affected by hunting. In protected forests primate dispersed plant seedling species dominated, whereas in hunted forests the seedling community was shifted towards one dominated by abiotically dispersed species. This was probably both a consequence of reduced seed dispersal by primates, and increased seed predation by rodents and hyrax. Hence we found no evidence for buffering effects on tree regeneration through functional compensation by non-hunted animals (such as birds). Our results highlight how seedling communities are changed by the complex plant–animal intera ctions, triggered by the loss of seed dispersers. The results predict a rarity of primate-dispersed trees in future tropical forest canopies; a forest less diverse in timber and non-timber resources.<br/>},
  author       = {Effiom, Edu and Birkhofer, Klaus and Smith, Henrik G. and Olsson, Ola},
  issn         = {1600-0587},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {367--377},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Ecography},
  title        = {Changes of community composition at multiple trophic levels due to hunting in Nigerian tropical forest},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00359.x},
  volume       = {37},
  year         = {2014},
}