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Dispersal patterns of large-seeded plants and the foraging behaviour of a frugivorous bat

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2020

David Villalobos-Chaves*
Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA98195, USA
Felipe P. L. Melo
Laboratório de Ecologia Aplicada, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil Avenida Prof. Moraes Rêgo S/N, Cidade Universitária, Recife-PE, Brasil
Bernal Rodríguez-Herrera
Escuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José11501, Costa Rica
Author for correspondence: *David Villalobos-Chaves, Email:


Mutualistic interactions are biologically important, diverse and poorly understood. Comprehending these interactions and the effectiveness of the mutualistic partners has been the central focus of ecological and evolutionary studies, as this task requires disentangling the pieces of mutualism under study. Here, we tested the hypothesis that feeding activity of Artibeus phaeotis influences density, diversity and distance effects of the seed rain of large-seeded plant species in a Neotropical dry forest of Costa Rica. We predicted that bats’ activity increases density and diversity metrics on dispersing sites and that bats behave as short-distance dispersers. Our data revealed that, by dispersing hundreds of seeds within their small foraging areas and mostly close to fruiting trees, the feeding activity of A. phaeotis increases the density and richness of seeds underneath night feeding roosts. The functional role of A. phaeotis as disperser may vary among plant species, as we also detected that some seeds are more dispersed than others. Further inquiries to elucidate mutualistic interactions between frugivorous bats and large-seeded plant species should focus on understanding demographic and fitness outcomes, as strong selective pressures may be shaping morphological and behavioural traits of both plants and animals, ultimately influencing the survival of each partner.

Research Article
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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