Effects of seed predators of different body size on seed mortality in Bornean logged forest.
Hautier Y., Saner P., Philipson C., Bagchi R., Ong RC., Hector A.
BACKGROUND: The Janzen-Connell hypothesis proposes that seed and seedling enemies play a major role in maintaining high levels of tree diversity in tropical forests. However, human disturbance may alter guilds of seed predators including their body size distribution. These changes have the potential to affect seedling survival in logged forest and may alter forest composition and diversity. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We manipulated seed density in plots beneath con- and heterospecific adult trees within a logged forest and excluded vertebrate predators of different body sizes using cages. We show that small and large-bodied predators differed in their effect on con- and heterospecific seedling mortality. In combination small and large-bodied predators dramatically decreased both con- and heterospecific seedling survival. In contrast, when larger-bodied predators were excluded small-bodied predators reduced conspecific seed survival leaving seeds coming from the distant tree of a different species. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our results suggest that seed survival is affected differently by vertebrate predators according to their body size. Therefore, changes in the body size structure of the seed predator community in logged forests may change patterns of seed mortality and potentially affect recruitment and community composition.