, Volume 66, Issue 4, pp 563-573

Resource selection by tropical frugivorous birds: integrating multiple interactions

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Summary

Resource selection is a function of interactions of organisms (competition, predation) as well as characteristics of the resource and organisms. I provide a quantitative model that integrates these factors. I use the model to predict profitability of fruits to tropical birds, but the model and its predictions are applicable to a wider array of systems and organisms. Profitability of a fruit is determined by rewards provided by the pericarp (mass and caloric yields) relative to costs (metabolic requirements, handling time, search time, behavioral interference, predator avoidance) associated with finding and eating that fruit (Fig. 1). Fruits increase in profitability with increases in fruit size until increases in handling time offset increases in pericarp mass. The fruit size at which increases in handling time offset increases in pericarp mass varies among bird species due to differences in bill and body size. Decreases in feeding rate due to decreasing numbers of fruits and increasing search time causes reduced profitability and this effect becomes more severe with decreasing fruit size and/or increasing frugivore size. Consequently, as fruit size decreases relative to frugivore size, fruit abundance becomes increasingly important to fruit selection by frugivores. However, while profitability of resources is a function of characteristics of the resources and the organisms, biological interactions can change profitability rankings; resources that may be more profitable in the absence of behavioral interference, exploitation competition, or predation risk can become less profitable in the face of these interactions. The proposed model integrates these interactions to provide predictions of resource selection and these predictions are supported by published studies.