Network theory has provided a general way to understand mutualistic plant-animal interactions at the community level. Still, the mechanisms responsible for interaction patterns remain controversial. In this study we use a combination of statistical models and probability matrices to evaluate the relative importance of species morphological and nutritional (phenotypic) traits and species abundance in determining interactions between fleshy-fruited plants and birds that disperse their seeds. Models included variables associated with species abundance, a suite of variables associated with phenotypic traits (fruit diameter, bird bill width, fruit nutrient compounds), and the species identity of the avian disperser. Results show that both phenotypic traits and species abundance are important determinants of pairwise interactions. However, when considered separately, fruit diameter and bill width were more important in determining seed dispersal interactions. The effect of fruit compounds was less substantial and only important when considered together with abundance-related variables and/or the factor 'animal species'.
González-Castro, A., Yang, S., Nogales, M., & Carlo, T. A. (2015). Relative importance of phenotypic trait matching and species’ abundances in determining plant - Avian seed dispersal interactions in a small insular community. AoB PLANTS, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plv017