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The effect of seed size on seed fate in a subtropical forest, southwest of China

Zhengwei Lang, Bo Wang   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 652-657 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1852-008
Published: Apr 04, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles


Scatter-hoarding rodents acting both as seed predators and dispersers usually play an important role in seed dispersal of many plant species. Seed size is thought to essentially affect rodent scatter-hoarding processes. However, studies to date have frequently shown many controversial results regarding the effect of seed size on rodent foraging. In this study, we explored how seed size affects scatter-hoarding rodent foraging preferences in order to identify the possible reasons underlying the conflicting results reported in the scientific literature. We surveyed rodent seed predation and dispersal of five common tree species in a natural subtropical forest located in southwestern China along two seasons which were different in both seed abundances and rodent communities. Our results showed that a similar effect of seed size on rodent scatter-hoarding behavior existed in both seasons, although the seeds in spring were harvested more quickly than in autumn. Larger seeds of the small-seeded species (Castanopsis wattii, Lithocarpus hancei, Machilns yunnanensis and Lithocarpus pachyphyllus) were harvested, removed, and finally cached by the rodents more frequently. For the largest-seeded species (Lithocarpus xylocarpus), seeds with smaller size were preferred during the rodent scatter-hoarding processes. Our findings support the hypothesis that scatter-hoarding rodents preferably feed on large seeds at early stage of seed dispersal, but only up to a certain threshold of seed size.

  Keywords


Cache, Rodents, Seed Dispersal, Seed Predation, Seed Size

Authors’ address

(1)
Zhengwei Lang
Bo Wang
Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan province 666303 (China)

Corresponding author

Citation

Lang Z, Wang B (2016). The effect of seed size on seed fate in a subtropical forest, southwest of China. iForest 9: 652-657. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1852-008

Academic Editor

Massimo Faccoli

Paper history

Received: Sep 01, 2015
Accepted: Dec 07, 2015

First online: Apr 04, 2016
Publication Date: Aug 09, 2016
Publication Time: 3.97 months

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