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Title: Forest fragmentation and loss reduce richness, availability, and specialization in tropical hummingbird communities

Hummingbirds are important pollinators of many native Neotropical plants but their abundance and diversity in landscapes dominated by intensive human uses such as agriculture have rarely been examined, despite such land‐uses prevailing in the tropics. We examined how tropical deforestation affects hummingbird community structure in premontane forest patches embedded in a tropical countryside of Coto Brus Canton, Costa Rica. We captured hummingbirds in fourteen landscapes representing a gradient in patch size and forest amount, and tested for the effects of these variables on (1) hummingbird captures at flowers (pollinator availability); (2) species richness; and (3) filtering of functional traits. After accounting for sampling effects, both hummingbird availability and species richness declined by 40% and 50%, respectively, across the gradient in deforestation that we observed (9–66% forest within 1000 m). Focal patch size was the strongest predictor, even after statistically accounting for the amount of forest and matrix composition of landscapes. These reductions in availability and richness were well predicted by functional traits; morphologically specialized species with the capacity to transport long‐distance outcrossed pollen and low functional redundancy within the pollinator network showed the greatest sensitivity to landscape change. We hypothesize that declines in hummingbird availability, diversity, and functional traits are more » important mechanisms driving the observed pollen limitation of ornithophilous flowers in fragmented tropical landscapes. Efforts to conserve large forest patches and enhance matrix permeability are critical for maintaining forest hummingbird communities and pollination services under current and predicted deforestation regimes.

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Publication Date:
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p. 74-83
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Deforestation can impact the quality of pollen received by target plants (i.e. delivery of incompatible pollen, self‐pollen or pollen from closely related individuals). Such reductions in plant mating quality may be direct, when deforestation reduces plant population size and the availability of pollen donors, or indirect, when decreased mating quality results, for example, from shifts in the composition of the pollinator community. As most flowering plants depend on animal pollinators for reproduction, there is a need to understand the direct and indirect links between deforestation, pollinator community composition and plant mating quality.

    We quantified the direct, pollen donor‐mediated and indirect, pollinator‐mediated effects of deforestation on mating quality inHeliconia tortuosa, a tropical herb pollinated by low‐ and high‐mobility hummingbirds. We used a confirmatory path analysis to test the hypothesis that deforestation (amount of forest cover and forest patch size) influenced mating quality (haplotype diversity of pollen pools, outcrossing and biparental inbreeding) directly and indirectly through functional shifts in the composition of pollinator communities (proportion of high‐mobility hummingbirds).

    We found that deforestation triggered functional shifts in the composition of pollinator communities, as the proportion of high‐mobility hummingbirds increased significantly with the amount of forest cover and forest patch size. The composition of themore »pollinator community affected mating quality, as the haplotype diversity of pollen pools increased significantly with the proportion of high‐mobility hummingbirds, while biparental inbreeding decreased significantly. Although we did not detect any significant direct, pollen donor‐mediated effects of deforestation on mating quality, reductions in the amount of forest cover and forest patch size resulted in functional shifts that filtered out high‐mobility hummingbirds from the pollinator community, thereby reducing mating quality indirectly.

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  2. Abstract

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