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Trophic structure of a neotropical frugivore community: is there competition between birds and bats?

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Summary

Dietary overlap and competition between frugivorous birds and bats in the Neotropics have been presumed to be low, but comparative data have been lacking. We determined the diets of volant frugivores in an early successional patch of Costa Rican wet forest over a one month period. Ordination of the diet matrix by Reciprocal Averaging revealed that birds and bats tend to feed on different sets of fruits and that diets differed more among bat species than among bird species. However, there was overlap between Scarlet-rumped Tanagers and three Carollia bat species on fruits of several Piper species which comprised most of the diet of these bats. Day/night exclosure experiments on P. friedrichsthalli treetlets provided evidence that birds deplete the amount of ripe fruit available to bats. These results indicate that distantly related taxa may overlap in diet and compete for fruit, despite the apparent adaptation of animal-dispersed plant species for dispersal by particular animal taxa.

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Palmeirim, J.M., Gorchoy, D.L. & Stoleson, S. Trophic structure of a neotropical frugivore community: is there competition between birds and bats?. Oecologia 79, 403–411 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00384321

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