The contribution of plant-animal interactions to biodiversity and ecosystem restoration of the Atlantic forest

Samenvatting

Across the world old-growth forests are rapidly diminishing due to anthropogenic forest conversion. Simultaneously, forest recovery in human-modified landscapes has led to an increase of secondary forests, which may have the potential to mitigate loss of biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services. Human impacts regulate both tree and animal abundances, but in a different way, so that in restored fragments novel communities (in terms of plant-animal interactions) are likely to develop. Important landscape characteristics such as surrounding land-use and surrounding native forest cover are likely to greatly affect the composition and functioning of these novel communities, by altering the influx of frugivorous animals, tree seeds and genotypes from neighbouring forests. In severely fragmented landscapes, such as the Atlantic forest region, this could have major societal implications if ecosystem functions such as carbon storage are compromised. Despite the recognition of plant-frugivore interactions as a critical component for successful forest regeneration, studies on forest regeneration have largely neglected the role of plant-frugivore interaction networks in this process. Thus, it remains unclear how these networks develop over time in regenerating forests and to what extent they are regulated by landscape connectivity. This project therefore addresses the complex interactions between plants and animals that enable ecosystem functioning and the provisioning of ecosystem services including carbon sequestration. In the proposed study we will quantify to what extent landscape connectivity affects restoration outcomes in terms of functional plant-frugivore relationships and cascading effects on carbon storage, population-level tree recruitment and genetic diversity and biodiversity conservation value in novel communities. The unique combined expertise of the Dutch and Brazilian partners allows the full range of relevant aspects to be addressed: from tree and animal communities to species interactions to ecosystem functioning and services. Specifically, we will characterize plant-frugivore interactions across second-growth forest fragments differing in age and landscape connectivity in the São Paulo Atlantic forest region. Based on our findings, we will identify priority areas within the Atlantic forest region that are most suitable for natural regeneration, and develop restoration guidelines to promote plant-frugivore interactions that enhance biodiversity and carbon sequestration where needed.

Kenmerken

Projectnummer

17431

Hoofdaanvrager

Prof. dr. M.B. Soons

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Bètawetenschappen, Departement Biologie

Uitvoerders

R. Timmers MSc

Looptijd

15/07/2019 tot 31/03/2023