Identifying keystone plant resources in an Amazonian forest using a long-term fruit-fall record


Journal Article

The keystone plant resources (KPR) concept describes certain plant species in tropical forests as vital to community stability and diversity because they provide food resources to vertebrate consumers during the season of scarcity. Here, we use an 8-y, continuous record of fruit fall from a 1.44-ha mature forest stand to identify potential KPRs in a lowland western Amazonian rain forest. KPRs were identified based on four criteria: temporal non-redundancy; year-to-year reliability; abundance of reproductive-size individuals and inferred fruit crop size; and the variety of vertebrate consumers utilizing their fruit. Overall, seven species were considered excellent KPRs: two of these belong to the genus Ficus, confirming that this taxon is a KPR as previously suggested. Celtis iguanaea (Cannabaceae) - a canopy liana - has also been previously classified as a KPR; in addition, Pseudomalmea diclina (Annonaceae), Cissus ulmifolia (Vitaceae), Allophylus glabratus (Sapindaceae) and Trichilia elegans (Meliaceae) are newly identified KPRs. Our results confirm that a very small fraction (<5%) of the plant community consistently provides fruit for a broad set of consumers during the period of resource scarcity, which has significant implications for the conservation and management of Amazonian forests. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Diaz-Martin, Z; Swamy, V; Terborgh, J; Alvarez-Loayza, P; Cornejo, F

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 291 - 301

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-7831

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0266-4674

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S0266467414000248

Citation Source

  • Scopus