, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 238–252 | Cite as

Enhanced seed dispersal of Prunus africana in fragmented and disturbed forests?

  • Nina Farwig
  • Katrin Böhning-Gaese
  • Bärbel Bleher
Plant Animal Interactions


Forest destruction and disturbance can have long-term consequences for species diversity and ecosystem processes such as seed dispersal. Understanding these consequences is a crucial component of conserving vulnerable ecosystems. In the heavily fragmented and disturbed Kakamega Forest, western Kenya, we studied seed dispersal of Prunus africana (Rosaceae). In the main forest, five forest fragments, and differently disturbed sites, we quantified the overall frugivore community as an indicator for species diversity. Furthermore, we determined the frugivores on 28 fruiting P. africana trees, estimated seed dispersal, crop size and the general fruit availability of surrounding trees. During the overall frugivore census we recorded 49 frugivorous species; 36 of them were observed visiting P. africana trees and feeding on their fruits. Although overall frugivore species richness was 1.1 times lower in fragments than in main forest sites and 1.02 times higher in highly disturbed than in less disturbed sites, P. africana experienced 1.1 times higher numbers of frugivores in fragments than in main forest sites and 1.5 times higher numbers of frugivores in highly disturbed than in less disturbed sites. Correspondingly, seed dispersal was 1.5 times higher in fragments than in main forest sites and 1.5 times higher in more disturbed than less disturbed sites. Fruit availability of surrounding trees and crop size influenced the number of visitors to some degree. Thus, the number of dispersed seeds seemed to be slightly higher in fragmented and highly disturbed sites. This indicates that loss of single species does not necessarily lead to a decrease of ecosystem services. However, loss of diversity could be a problem in the long term, as a multitude of species might act as buffer against future environmental change.


Frugivores Plant–animal interaction Kakamega Forest Rosaceae Process diversity 



We thank the KWS and the FD for their permission to work in Kakamega Forest. We are grateful to N. Sajita, J. M. Kirika, F. B. Munyekenye and S. Rösner for field work, Karin v. Ewijk and Gertrud Schaab for GIS support and E. Griebeler, M. Veith, F.A. Voigt and four anonymous referees for valuable comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. The study is part of the Ph.D. thesis of N. Farwig at the University of Mainz. Financial support was provided by the BMBF (Biota East Africa 01LC0025).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Farwig
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katrin Böhning-Gaese
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bärbel Bleher
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Zoologie - Abt. ÖkologieJohannes Gutenberg-Universität MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Department of OrnithologyNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya

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