Plant-animal interactions in a changing world: Implications for seed fates in the Anthropocene [S-9]

Erin Kuprewicz, University of Connecticut
Sandra B Correa, Mississippi State University

Our symposium considers the topic of seed fate (e.g., seed dispersal, seed predation, and plant recruitment)--a topic of great importance for understanding tropical ecosystems that are currently undergoing dramatic, rapid change in the Anthropocene.

Tropical forests are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world and this diversity is maintained in part through complex multi-trophic interactions. Animal mediated seed dispersal is one such interaction and plays a major role in forest regeneration, community composition, and the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Historically, accurately tracking the fates of seeds from primary dispersal by frugivores through to seedling recruitment presented researchers with an intractable problem. However recent advances in methodology and technology have allowed ecologists to track seed survival and treatment by dispersers and predators through space and time in complex habitats (e.g., tropical rain forests).

In 2005, the now-classic book Seed Fate was published to summarize the then-known state of knowledge on this diverse topic (Forget et al. 2005). Since then, rapid and unprecedented changes in forest ecosystems driven by mainly anthropogenic factors such as fragmentation, hunting, and climate breakdown have provoked new questions and necessitated the use of innovative technology (e.g., radio-tracking, molecular methods) to answer them. The time is now right for a review of these conceptual and technological advances regarding the fate of seeds in tropical ecosystems in a rapidly changing world.

In this symposium, we propose to assemble an international team of researchers to synthesize the current state of knowledge on the topic of seed fates in tropical ecosystems. Ultimately, the speakers in this symposium will be invited to submit papers to a book which will succeed Seed Fate (Forget et al. 2005) and comprise a collection of insights and advances in the field of seed dispersal ecology, especially regarding the fates of seeds. It is anticipated that taken together, the contributions from this symposium will advance our understanding of the likely consequences of global change drivers on seed fate. It is hoped that such knowledge will position us to better predict and manage plant-animal interactions in the Anthropocene for the long-term survival of tropical forest systems.

Photo: E. Kuprewicz

Upslope seed dispersal potential and optimal germination temperatures shape current and future ranges of lowland plants in a changing world (Erin Kuprewicz)

Using fruit traits to predict mutualistic vs. antagonistic interactions between frugivores and seeds (Sandra Correa)

Simplified communities of vertebrate seed-dispersers on edge habitat limit the composition and flow of seeds (Onja Razafindratsima)

Secondary metabolites in fruit development, defense and dispersal: hypotheses and case study (Lauren Maynard)



Plant-animal interactions in a changing world: Implications for seed fates in the Anthropocene [S-9]