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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X

Abstract

AIZEN, MARCELO A.; VAZQUEZ, DIEGO P.  and  SMITH-RAMIREZ, CECILIA. Natural history and conservation of plant-animal mutualisms in the temperate forest of southern South America. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2002, vol.75, n.1, pp.79-97. ISSN 0716-078X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2002000100008.

The temperate forest of southern South America (TFSSA) has a highly endemic biota with a flora that exhibits one of the highest incidences of biotic pollination (particularly ornithophily) and animal dispersal (particularly endozoochory) found in any temperate biome worldwide. Much knowledge has been gained in the last few years on the nature of these mutualisms. In this study, we review (1) the group of animals that participate in these relationships and their relative importance, (2) the community structure of these interactions, and (3) their degree of spatial consistency on a geographical scale based on studies conducted in two or more localities at both sides of the Andes. We also compare the plant-animal mutualisms of the TFSSA with those occurring in other biomes. Last, we present evidence showing how deforestation, fragmentation, and other forms of human disturbance are affecting these mutualisms. This work supports the hypothesis that the many plant species pollinated and dispersed by vertebrates in the TFFSA depend on a strikingly poor assemblage of animal mutualists. On the other hand, invertebrate-pollinated plants interact with an unexpectedly diverse assemblage of insect pollinators that include taxa present only in this biome. Although many of these mutualisms seem to be resilient, others appear highly sensitive to different forms of human disturbance

Keywords : pollination; seed dispersal; invertebrates; vertebrates; Chile; Argentina.

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