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Niche Packing and Local Coexistence in a Megadiverse Guild of Frugivorous Birds Are Mediated by Fruit Dependence and Shifts in Interaction Frequencies.

Authors
  • Dehling, D Matthias
  • Dalla Riva, Giulio Valentino
  • Hutchinson, Matthew C
  • Stouffer, Daniel B
Type
Published Article
Journal
The American Naturalist
Publisher
The University of Chicago Press
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2022
Volume
199
Issue
6
Pages
855–868
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1086/718684
PMID: 35580221
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

AbstractNiche packing is one of the prevailing mechanisms underlying the increase in the number of co-occurring species and the extraordinary diversity of tropical ecosystems. However, it is not yet understood whether niche packing is facilitated by higher specialization and reduced niche overlap or, rather, by diffuse competition and increased niche overlap. We combined highly resolved bird-plant interaction networks, bird phylogenies, and plant functional traits to compare dietary niche overlap and foraging frequencies among frugivorous birds at seven sites in the tropical Andes. We quantified niche overlap on the basis of the traits of the plants used by each bird and related it to the degree of niche packing at the different sites. Niche complementarity decreased with increasing niche packing, suggesting that increasingly dense niche packing is facilitated by increased niche overlap. Pairwise niche overlap was mediated by shifts in foraging frequencies away from shared resources, and it decreased with decreasing phylogenetic relatedness and increasing dependence on fruit as resource. Our findings suggest that foraging choices are a key axis of diversification in frugivorous birds and that differences in resource use frequencies are already sufficient to reduce potential competition between ecologically similar species and facilitate niche packing, especially if species differ in their dependence on particular resources.

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