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Completion of the regeneration cycle

Foto: Sascha Rösner

The link between frugivore activity and plant regeneration is key to understanding seed dispersal processes and plant demography, especially in the context of environmental factors such as forest degradation. However, due to the complexity of the cascade of seed dispersal and regeneration processes, it has been difficult to quantify this link. In the proposed project, we aim to fill this research gap by quantitatively linking plant-frugivore interactions to plant regeneration processes in the context of forest degradation. To do this, we will use a new molecular method that uses skin cells attached to defecated seeds to determine the identity of the seed disperser species. We will combine this approach with classical population matrices based on empirical field data for the plant species. This will allow us to study the influence of frugivore activity on plant regeneration in old-growth and logged forests. Our study system is the Białowieża Forest (BPF) in eastern Poland, the last lowland primeval forest in Europe. The forest represents a unique reference system, as species communities and ecological processes have been able to develop almost undisturbed since the last ice age. The project builds from extensive datasets from our previous studies of frugivore-plant interactions in BPF. These studies showed a significant loss of interactions and interaction partners in logged compared to old-growth forests. Building on these data, our project will allow unique insights into the consequences of the loss of seed dispersers in logged forests for plant community population dynamics.

PI: Dana Schabo and Nina Farwig

Team: Jan Schlautmann and Finn Rehling

Cooperation partner: Bogdan Jaroszewicz (Geobotanical Institute of the University of Warsaw, Poland), Nuria Selva (Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Poland), Jörg Albrecht, (Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre) andDiethart Matthies (University of Marburg)

Project funding: DFG