ABSTRACT Knowing the morphological and phylogenetic patterns of fruits of a plant community may elucidate plant-frugivore interactions, and analysis of dispersal syndromes is a practical approach to understanding these mutualisms. We investigated different zoochorous fruits and frugivorous animals among Cerrado formations (forest, savanna and grassland), mapped dispersal syndromes on a Cerrado angiosperm phylogeny and tested for phylogenetic signal. For a core region in Cerrado, we found that, among almost a thousand fruit species and 258 fruit-eating vertebrates, 60% of the fruits had an ornithochorous syndrome and that 70% of the frugivores were birds. Most fruit and frugivorous species (~80%) inhabit forest formations, but many of them also occurred in more than one Cerrado formation. The zoochorous syndromes were found to have little phylogenetic signal, with many plant families exhibiting more than one fruit syndrome, and with ornithochory being widely distributed throughout the phylogeny. Our results suggest that plant-frugivore interactions tend to be evolutionarily labile in this Neotropical region, although birds have had a prominent role in fruit evolution. Furthermore, we found that all three Cerrado formations seem to be interrelated in maintaining functional stability of the plant-frugivore mutualisms in the Cerrado biome.
ABSTRACT The investigation of the phylogeny of a group of organisms has the potential to identify ecological and evolutionary processes that have been occurring within a community. Seed dispersal is a key process in the life cycle of vegetation and reflects different reproductive strategies of plants to a set of ecological and evolutionary factors. Knowing the dispersal syndromes and fruits types of a plant community may help elucidate plant-animal interactions and colonization strategies of plants. We investigated dispersal syndromes and fruit types in Cerrado formations as a parameter for understanding the evolution of angiosperm reproductive strategies in this mega-diverse tropical biome. To do this we identified and mapped the distribution of different parameters associated with seed dispersal on a phylogeny of Cerrado angiosperms genera and tested the presence of phylogenetic signal. The results showed that there were strong relationships between fruit types, seed dispersal strategies and vegetation life forms and that these traits were closely related to angiosperms phylogeny and, together, contribute to the evolution of plants in the forest, savanna and grassland formations of the Cerrado biome.