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      Temporal changes in the structure of a plant-frugivore network are influenced by bird migration and fruit availability


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          Background. Ecological communities are dynamic collections whose composition and structure change over time, making up complex interspecific interaction networks. Mutualistic plant–animal networks can be approached through complex network analysis; these networks are characterized by a nested structure consisting of a core of generalist species, which endows the network with stability and robustness against disturbance. Those mutualistic network structures can vary as a consequence of seasonal fluctuations and food availability, as well as the arrival of new species into the system that might disorder the mutualistic network structure (e.g., a decrease in nested pattern). However, there is no assessment on how the arrival of migratory species into seasonal tropical systems can modify such patterns. Emergent and fine structural temporal patterns are adressed here for the first time for plant-frugivorous bird networks in a highly seasonal tropical environment.

          Methods. In a plant-frugivorous bird community, we analyzed the temporal turnover of bird species comprising the network core and periphery of ten temporal interaction networks resulting from different bird migration periods. Additionally, we evaluated how fruit abundance and richness, as well as the arrival of migratory birds into the system, explained the temporal changes in network parameters such as network size, connectance, nestedness, specialization, interaction strength asymmetry and niche overlap. The analysis included data from 10 quantitative plant-frugivorous bird networks registered from November 2013 to November 2014.

          Results. We registered a total of 319 interactions between 42 plant species and 44 frugivorous bird species; only ten bird species were part of the network core. We witnessed a noteworthy turnover of the species comprising the network periphery during migration periods, as opposed to the network core, which did not show significant temporal changes in species composition. Our results revealed that migration and fruit richness explain the temporal variations in network size, connectance, nestedness and interaction strength asymmetry. On the other hand, fruit abundance only explained connectance and nestedness.

          Discussion. By means of a fine-resolution temporal analysis, we evidenced for the first time how temporal changes in the interaction network structure respond to the arrival of migratory species into the system and to fruit availability. Additionally, few migratory bird species are important links for structuring networks, while most of them were peripheral species. We showed the relevance of studying bird–plant interactions at fine temporal scales, considering changing scenarios of species composition with a quantitative network approach.

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              Conservation of species interaction networks


                Author and article information

                PeerJ Inc. (San Francisco, USA )
                8 June 2016
                : 4
                : e2048
                [1 ]Red de Interacciones Multitróficas, Instituto de Ecología, A. C. Xalapa, Veracruz, México
                [2 ]Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México , Morelia, Michoacán, México
                ©2016 Ramos-Robles et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                : 5 December 2015
                : 27 April 2016
                Funded by: CONACYT
                Award ID: 234062
                Funded by: EA
                Award ID: 2010-152884 SEPCONACYT
                Funded by: Instituto de Ecología, A.C. (INECOL)
                Award ID: 2003011143
                The authors received partial funding from the following grants and institutions: Grant number 234062 for M Ramos-Robles by CONACYT, Project number 2010-152884 SEP-CONACYT for EA and Project number 2003011143 for C Díaz by Instituto de Ecología, A.C. (INECOL). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Conservation Biology

                frugivory,interactions network,migratory birds,seed dispersal,fruit availability,temporal


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