A Review on the State of the Art in Frugivory and Seed Dispersal on Islands and the Implications of Global Change

We provide an overview of the current state of knowledge of island frugivory and seed dispersal and identify knowledge gaps that are important for fundamental research on—and applied conservation of—island ecosystems. We conducted a systematic literature search of frugivory and seed dispersal on islands, omitting large, continental islands. This revealed a total of 448 studies, most (75%) published during the last two decades, especially after 2010. Nearly 65% of them were focused on eight archipelagos. There is a paucity of studies in Pacific archipelagos near Asia and Australia, and in the Indian Ocean. Data on island frugivory and seed dispersal are diverse but highly uneven in geographic and conceptual coverage. Despite their limited biodiversity, islands are essential reservoirs of endemic plants and animals and their interactions. Due to the simplicity of insular ecosystems, we can assess the importance of seed dispersal theory and mechanisms at species and community levels. These include the ecological and biogeographical meaning and prevalence of non-standard mechanisms of seed dispersal on islands; the seed dispersal effectiveness and the relative roles of different frugivore guilds (birds and reptiles being the most important); and patterns of community organization and their drivers as revealed by interaction networks. Island systems are characterized by the extinction of many natives and endemics, and high rates of species introductions. Therefore, understanding how these losses and additions alter seed dispersal processes has been a prevailing goal of island studies and an essential foundation for the effective restoration and conservation of islands.