1932

Abstract

Seed dispersal is key to the persistence and spread of plant populations. Because the majority of plant species rely on animals to disperse their seeds, global change drivers that directly affect animals can cause cascading impacts on plant communities. In this review, we synthesize studies assessing how disperser loss alters plant populations, community patterns, multitrophic interactions, and ecosystem functioning. We argue that the magnitude of risk to plants from disperser loss is shaped by the combination of a plant species’ inherent dependence on seed dispersal and the severity of the hazards faced by their dispersers. Because the factors determining a plant species’ risk of decline due to disperser loss can be related to traits of the plants and dispersers, our framework enables a trait-based understanding of change in plant community composition and ecosystem functioning. We discuss how interactions among plants, among dispersers, and across other trophic levels also mediate plant community responses, and we identify areas for future research to understand and mitigate the consequences of disperser loss on plants globally.

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2021-11-03
2024-06-17
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