Leftovers in seed dispersal: ecological implications of partial seed consumption for oak regeneration

Perea García-Calvo, Ramón and San Miguel Ayanz, Alfonso and Gil Sanchez, Luis Alfonso (2011). Leftovers in seed dispersal: ecological implications of partial seed consumption for oak regeneration. "Journal of Ecology", v. 99 (n. 1); pp. 194-201. ISSN 0022-0477. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01749.x.

Description

Title: Leftovers in seed dispersal: ecological implications of partial seed consumption for oak regeneration
Author/s:
  • Perea García-Calvo, Ramón
  • San Miguel Ayanz, Alfonso
  • Gil Sanchez, Luis Alfonso
Item Type: Article
Título de Revista/Publicación: Journal of Ecology
Date: January 2011
Volume: 99
Subjects:
Faculty: E.T.S.I. Montes (UPM)
Department: Silvopascicultura [hasta 2014]
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Abstract

1. Successful seed dispersal by animals is assumed to occur when undamaged seeds arrive at a favourable microsite. Most seed removal and dispersal studies consider only two possible seed fates, predation or escape intact. Whether partial consumption of seeds has ecological implications for natural regeneration is unclear. We studied partial consumption of seeds in a rodent-dispersed oak species. 2. Fifteen percent of dispersed acorns were found partially eaten in a field experiment. Most damage affected only the basal portion of the seeds, resulting in no embryo damage. Partially eaten acorns had no differences in dispersal distance compared to intact acorns but were recovered at farther distances than completely consumed acorns. 3. Partially eaten acorns were found under shrub cover unlike intact acorns that were mostly dispersed to open microhabitats. 4. Partially eaten acorns were not found buried proportionally more often than intact acorns, leading to desiccation and exposure to biotic agents (predators, bacteria and fungi). However, partial consumption caused more rapid germination, which enables the acorns to tolerate the negative effects of exposure. 5. Re-caching and shrub cover as microhabitat of destination promote partial seed consumption. Larger acorns escaped predation more often and had higher uneaten cotyledon mass. Satiation at seed level is the most plausible explanation for partial consumption. 6. Partial consumption caused no differences in root biomass when acorns experienced only small cotyledon loss. However, root biomass was lower when acorns experienced heavy loss of tissue but, surprisingly, they produced longer roots, which allow the seeds to gain access sooner to deeper resources. 7.Synthesis. Partial consumption of acorns is an important event in the oak regeneration process, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Most acorns were damaged non-lethally, without decreasing both dispersal distances and the probability of successful establishment. Faster germination and production of longer roots allow partially eaten seeds to tolerate better the exposure disadvantages caused by the removal of the pericarp and the non-buried deposition. Consequently, partially consumed seeds can contribute significantly to natural regeneration and must be considered in future seed dispersal studies.

More information

Item ID: 11664
DC Identifier: http://oa.upm.es/11664/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:11664
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01749.x
Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01749.x/abstract
Deposited by: Memoria Investigacion
Deposited on: 12 Jul 2012 08:26
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2019 12:58
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