Landscape configuration and composition shape mutualistic and antagonistic interactions among plants, bats, and ectoparasites in human-dominated tropical rainforests
The Atlantic Forest has lost most of its native area due to the ongoing processes of habitat conversion. The suppression of the forest for the implementation mainly of agriculture has created varied environmental mosaics, modifying the native landscapes and affecting natural populations and their ecological interactions. We aimed to evaluate if both landscape configuration and composition interfere distinctively with mutualistic bat-plant and antagonistic bat-ectoparasite interactions. We conducted this study in landscapes composed of an anthropogenic mosaic containing forest patches embedded in a matrix of different monocultures in southern Minas Gerais state, Brazil. We mapped the landscapes to assess the effect of its configuration and composition on the organization of complex networks of ecological interactions. The antagonistic interactions were more affected by the landscape than the mutualistic interactions. Greater forest cover resulted in less diversity of interactions and more specialization of mutualism, whereas in antagonism it was associated with an increased in the nestedness and decrease in the diversity of interactions, modularity, and richness. The higher shape value of the forest patch influenced only antagonism, being correlated with decreased diversity and increased specialization. More diversity of landscape classes resulted in reduced diversity of mutualism, increased nestedness, and decreased modularity in antagonism. We observed that the landscape characteristics influenced differently in different types of interactions, which occurred even when we considered interactions that share taxa, such as the bats that integrate the mutualisms and antagonisms evaluated. These findings demonstrated the importance of managing the entire landscape for the preservation of ecological interactions.