Implications of mammalian defaunation for woody-plant regeneration dynamics and community composition in tropical premontane forests
Graham, Christopher John
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My research investigated potential implications of mammalian defaunation for tropical woody plant communities. I couched my studies in terms of two filters that large mammals apply to woody plant regeneration: seed predation and seedling/sapling herbivory. I found that small-seed predation, rather than large-seed predation, differentiated mortality in isolated seed groups between sites. Herbivory on juvenile plants was equivalent between sites, again evincing a lack of large-herbivore effect. Finally, tree species compositions differed between sites, but no evidence was found for juvenile tree community shifts due to diminished large-seed predation at the defaunated site. Although mine is a case study of premontane forests, I believe it to be an important addition to a compendium of defaunation papers dominated by lowland rainforest studies. My sites were buffered against differential effects of large herbivore activity by idiosyncrasies of small rodent populations, scale-dependent ungulate behavior, and, perhaps, the novel climate of the study systems.