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Keywords:

  • Mediterranean habitats;
  • Red fox;
  • seed dispersal;
  • seed viability;
  • Sierra Nevada;
  • Stone marten;
  • Wild boar

Seed dispersal by Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Stone marten (Martes foina), and Wild boar (Sus scrofa) was analyzed in an extensively degraded mosaic landscape in Sierra Nevada (SE Spain). The main objective was to determine whether seed dispersal by mammals was related to habitat degradation within a mosaic of adjacent degraded patches mixed with native forest and thereby to determine the potential role of mammals as seed dispersers in degraded landscape units. For three consecutive years, mammal feces were collected in the fruit production period, extracting all seeds of woody species found therein and analyzing their viability. Feces were collected in three different plots for each of five different landscape units: shrubland, native forest, and dense, cleared, and fenced reforestation stands. Seeds from 16 woody species (which represent more than a half of the total fleshy-fruited woody species available) were recorded, although some agrarian species are also introduced in a low percentage of the scats. Seeds showed a high viability rate for all dispersed species, irrespective of the mammal disperser. No differences in species composition appeared in the overall landscape units or in the seed density between degraded habitats. Due to the small patch size, the high viability of dispersed seeds, and the large home range of the large mammals, these three animal species act as efficient seed dispersers for a diverse assemblage of woody plant species regardless of the habitat type within this degradation framework. This fact has important consequences for the biodiversity recuperation in these degraded habitats, principally in pine plantations.