Avian ecosystem functions are influenced by small mammal ecosystem engineering

Root-Bernstein, M; Fierro, A.; Armesto, J; Ebensperger, L.A.


Background: Birds are important mobile link species that contribute to landscape-scale patterns by means of pollination, seed dispersal, and predation. Birds are often associated with habitats modified by small mammal ecosystem engineers. We investigated whether birds prefer to forage on degu (Octodon degus) runways by comparing their foraging effort across sites with a range of runway densities, including sites without runways. We measured granivory by granivorous and omnivorous birds at Rinconada de Maipú, central Chile. As a measure of potential bird foraging on insects, we sampled invertebrate prey richness and abundance across the same sites. We then quantified an index of plot-scale functional diversity due to avian foraging at the patch scale. Results: We recorded that birds found food sources sooner and ate more at sites with higher densities of degu runways, cururo mounds, trees, and fewer shrubs. These sites also had higher invertebrate prey richness but lower invertebrate prey abundance. This implies that omnivorous birds, and possibly insectivorous birds, forage for invertebrates in the same plots with high degu runway densities where granivory takes place. In an exploratory analysis we also found that plot-scale functional diversity for four avian ecosystem functions were moderately to weakly correllated to expected ecosystem function outcomes at the plot scale. Conclusions: Degu ecosystem engineering affects the behavior of avian mobile link species and is thus correlated with ecosystem functioning at relatively small spatial scales. © 2013 Root-Bernstein et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Título según SCOPUS: Avian ecosystem functions are influenced by small mammal ecosystem engineering
Título de la Revista: BMC RESEARCH NOTES
Volumen: 6
Número: 1
Fecha de publicación: 2013
Idioma: English