Our cover image (photo credit: Ruben Heleno) comes from Rumeu et al’s paper, Predicting the consequences of disperser extinction: richness matters the most when abundance is low. In their paper, Rumeu et al assessed the functional consequences of defaunation on a seed dispersal network from the Galápagos Islands under five simulated extinction scenarios based on current threats to the archipelago biota. The authors found that both abundance and species richness of frugivores significantly affect the seed dispersal function (measured as the number of plant species dispersed after frugivore extinctions). The sequence of animal extinctions also has profound implications for the service available to the plant community. In the Galapagos, abundant species with generalist diets (like the lava lizard pictured here) can to a large extent mitigate the loss of more specialized dispersers and the early extinction of key generalist frugivores can lead to the rapid collapse of seed dispersal services. At the same time as generalist frugivores provide functional redundancy and secure high levels of seed dispersal, the identity of the species lost is also critical to understand the consequences for the number of plant species dispersed. Read the paper here or the free plain language summary here.
Also in this issue, Incorporating the effects of generalist seed predators into plant community theory from Larios et al. (This paper, and all our Reviews are free to read online).