Land-use change in a Mexican dry forest promotes species turnover and increases nestedness in plant-hummingbird networks: are exotic plants taking over?
Background: Despite the increasing knowledge of plant-pollinator interaction networks, the effects of human-induced disturbances on them have barely been studied.We analyzed whether land-use changes modified the structure and topology of plant-hummingbird interaction networks or promoted the integration of exotic plant species. Methods: Fieldwork was carried out in two vegetation areas in Mexico: a protected tropical dry forest and nearby disturbed sites. For two years we registered hummingbird-plant interactions monthly in each area. Then, we constructed interaction matrices from these data and compared their assemblage structure. Results: The conversion of original dry forest to disturbed habitats impacted some assemblage attributes of the planthummingbird network. In the disturbed sites, there were more plant species, mainly exotics, and one additional hummingbird species. Most network attributes remained the same except niche width and nestedness (pattern of interactions where generalists and specialists tend to interact with generalists whereas specialist-to-specialist interactions are infrequent), which were higher in the disturbed network. The generalist core in the disturbed network contained half of the core species in the conserved network. Implications for conservation Exotic plants that strongly integrated into the disturbed network may exert a large influence on network dynamics in these areas. Identifying the interacting species and their role provides valuable insights for their conservation and protection. Hummingbirds attracting native plant species have a potential for practical or ornamental use, and hummingbirds presence in human-modified landscapes not only provides positive aestheti.