Ecological Impacts of Exotic Species on Native Seed Dispersal Systems: A Systematic Review

Sebastián Cordero, Francisca Gálvez, Francisco E. Fontúrbel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Exotic species are one of the main threats to biodiversity, leading to alterations in the structure and functioning of natural ecosystems. However, they can sometimes also provide ecological services, such as seed dispersal. Therefore, we assessed the ecological impacts of exotic species on native dispersal systems and the mechanisms underlying the disruption of mutualistic plant–disperser interactions. Exotic species negatively affect dispersal mutualisms by (i) altering dispersal behavior and visitation rates of native dispersers, (ii) predating native dispersers, (iii) transmitting forest pathogens, and (iv) predating seeds. Conversely, positive impacts include the dispersal of native plants, forest regeneration, and native habitat restoration via (i) increasing the visitation rates of frugivorous birds, (ii) facilitating the colonization and establishment of native forest trees, (iii) enhancing forest species seedling survival, and (iv) facilitating seed rain and seedling recruitment of early and late successional native plants. The reviewed studies provide similar results in some cases and opposite results in others, even within the same taxa. In almost all cases, exotic species cause negative impacts, although sometimes they are necessary to ensure native species’ persistence. Therefore, exotic species management requires a comprehensive understanding of their ecological roles, since the resulting effects rely on the complexity of native–exotic species interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number261
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • biological invasions
  • dispersal disruption
  • frugivory
  • invasive species
  • plant–animal mutualism
  • seed predation
  • zoochory


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