The role of frugivorous birds and bats on the colonization of burned areas by cloud forest in western Mexico

The extension of montane cloud forests in western Mexico is threatened by several disturbances that limit their extension. In this study we aimed to assess the contribution of birds and bats in the dispersal and colonization of cloud–forest plants in contiguous surface–burned pine forests. We sampled seed rain and sapling establishment over one year in two surface–burned sites, which differed in the size of their closest cloud forest patch. A total of 17 plant species were found, most of which were late–successional trees, shrubs and climbers. Distance influenced the seed rain of only one dispersed taxon (Solanum sp.) and had no effect on the sapling distribution of this or other plants. In turn, marked differences were found between sites, with more seeds dispersed and higher sapling density in the site that was next to the larger cloud forest patch. The role of long–distance dispersers and the existence of seed banks before fire could explain the little importance of distance from seed source on seed dispersal and sapling distribution. Nevertheless, dispersal by birds and bats before or after fire facilitates the regeneration and conservation of cloud forests in disturbed areas formerly occupied by other habitats ​
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