Animal seed dispersal recovery during passive restoration in a forested landscape

Sergio Estrada-Villegas, Pablo R. Stevenson, Omar López, Saara J. Dewalt, Liza S. Comita, Daisy H. Dent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Seed dispersal by animals is key for restoration of tropical forests because it maintains plant diversity and accelerates community turnover. Therefore, changes in seed dispersal during forest restoration can indicate the recovery of species interactions, and yet these changes are rarely considered in forest restoration planning. In this study, we examined shifts in the importance of different seed dispersal modes during passive restoration in a tropical chronosequence spanning more than 100 years, by modelling the proportion of trees dispersed by bats, small birds, large birds, flightless mammals and abiotic means as a function of forest age. Contrary to expectations, tree species dispersed by flightless mammals dominated after 20 years of regeneration, and tree richness and abundance dispersed by each mode mostly recovered to old growth levels between 40 and 70 years post-abandonment. Seed dispersal by small birds declined over time during regeneration, while bat dispersal played a minor role throughout all stages of succession. Results suggest that proximity to old growth forests, coupled with low hunting, explained the prevalence of seed dispersal by animals, especially by flightless mammals at this site. We suggest that aspects of seed dispersal should be monitored when restoring forest ecosystems to evaluate the reestablishment of species interactions. This article is part of the theme issue 'Understanding forest landscape restoration: reinforcing scientific foundations for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210076
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1867
StatePublished - Jan 2 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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