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Relationships between intra-specific variation in seed size and recruitment in four species in two contrasting habitats
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2013 (English)In: Plant Biology, ISSN 1435-8603, E-ISSN 1438-8677, Vol. 15, no 3, 601-606 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Large seeds contain more stored resources, and seedlings germinating from large seeds generally cope better with environmental stresses such as shading, competition and thick litter layers, than seedlings germinating from small seeds. A pattern with small-seeded species being associated with open habitats and large-seeded species being associated with closed (shaded) habitats has been suggested and supported by comparative studies. However, few studies have assessed the intra-specific relationship between seed size and recruitment, comparing plant communities differing in canopy cover. Here, seeds from four plant species commonly occurring in ecotones between open and closed habitats (Convallaria majalis, Frangula alnus, Prunus padus and Prunus spinosa) were weighed and sown individually (3200 seeds per species) in open and closed-canopy sites, and seedling emergence and survival recorded over 3 years. Our results show a generally positive, albeit weak, relationship between seed size and recruitment. In only one of the species, C. majalis, was there an association between closed canopy habitat and a positive seed size effect on recruitment. We conclude that there is a weak selection gradient favouring larger seeds, but that this selection gradient is not clearly related to habitat.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Vol. 15, no 3, 601-606 p.
Keyword [en]
Convallaria, Frangula, Prunus, seed size, seedling recruitment
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82371DOI: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2012.00676.xISI: 000317602900021OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-82371DiVA: diva2:567472
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2012-11-13 Created: 2012-11-13 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Effects of seed size and habitat on recruitment patterns in grassland and forest plants
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Effects of seed size and habitat on recruitment patterns in grassland and forest plants
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A trade-off between seed size and seed number is central in seed ecology, and has been suggested to be related to a trade-off between competition and colonization, as well as to a trade-off between stress tolerance and fecundity. Large seeds endure hazards during establishment, such as shading, drought, litter coverage and competition from other plants, better than do small seeds, due to a larger amount of stored resources in the seed. Small seeds, however, are numerous and small-seeded species are therefore more fecund. Moreover, a pattern with small-seeded species being associated with open habitats and large-seeded species being associated with closed habitats has been reported in the literature. In this thesis I assess effects of seed size on recruitment, and how relationships between seed size and recruitment may relate to habitat conditions. Seed sowing experiments were performed in the field to assess inter- and intra-specific relationships between seed size and recruitment in open and closed habitats (Paper I and II). Seed removal experiments were performed in the field to assess what effects seed predation may have on a relationship between seed size and recruitment (Paper III). A garden experiment was performed based on contests between larger-seeded and smaller-seeded species, in order to examine different models on co-existence of multiple seed size strategies. The results showed that there was a weak positive relationship between seed size and recruitment in the field, and that this relationship was only weakly and inconclusively related to habitat (Paper I and II). Seed removal was negatively related to seed size in closed habitats and unrelated to seed size in open habitats (Paper III). This indicates that any positive relationship between seed size and recruitment may be an effect of higher seed removal in small-seeded species. However, when grown under controlled conditions in a garden experiment, there was a clear advantage of larger-seeded species over smaller-seeded species (Paper IV). This advantage was unaffected by seed density, indicating that there was no competitive advantage of the larger-seeded species. Instead, indirect evidence suggests that larger-seeded species exhibit higher tolerance to stress.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Botany, Stockholm University, 2012. 32 p.
Keyword
Seed size, seedling establishment, seedling survival, recruitment, seed removal, co-existence, game-theory
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82384 (URN)978-91-7447-599-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-12-14, Föreläsningssalen, Botaniska institutionen, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Accepted.

 

Available from: 2012-11-22 Created: 2012-11-13 Last updated: 2012-11-15Bibliographically approved

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