Birds as agents of seed dispersal in a human-dominated landscape in southern Costa Rica

Liba Pejchar, Robert M. Pringle, Jai Ranganathan, James R. Zook, Guillermo Duran, Federico Oviedo, Gretchen C. Daily

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Birds play vital roles as seed dispersers helping to maintain and restore plant communities. With restoration increasingly key to global conservation, it is important to understand the landscape attributes and bird community characteristics that most influence avian seed dispersal in human-altered landscapes. We examined bird community structure and seed-dispersal patterns in agricultural countryside in Costa Rica that is typical of much of the Neotropics. Contrary to expectations, bird abundance, not richness, best predicted the richness of bird-dispersed seeds. Neither forest patch size or proximity, nor total tree cover, influenced seed dispersal. The richness and abundance of dispersed seeds, however, was strongly correlated with "wetness," a remotely-sensed metric of vegetation, at several scales. These results suggest that in this human-dominated tropical region: (1) bird abundance, not species richness or size, may drive seed dispersal, and (2) remote-sensing combined with field verification can detect landscape elements that are helpful for maintaining the option of bird-mediated reforestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-544
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • Avian frugivores
  • Biodiversity
  • Costa Rica
  • Countryside biogeography
  • Remote sensing
  • Restoration ecology


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