Comparative seed shadows of bird-, monkey-, and wind-dispersed trees
Although spatial patterns of seed distribution are thought to vary greatly among plant species dispersed by different vectors, few studies have directly examined this assumption. We compared patterns of seed rain of nine species of trees disseminated by large birds, monkeys, and wind in a closed canopy forest in Cameroon. We used maximum-likelihood methods to fit seed rain data to four dispersal functions: inverse power, negative exponential, Gaussian, and Student t. We then tested for differences in dispersal characteristics (1) among individuals within species, and (2) among species dispersed by the same vector. In general, an inverse power function best described animal-dispersed species and the Gaussian and Student t functions best described wind-dispersed species. Animal-dispersed species had longer mean dispersal distances than wind-dispersed species, but lower fecundities. In addition to these distinct differences in average dispersal distance and functional form of the seed shadow between animal- and wind-dispersed species, seed shadows varied markedly within species and vector, with conspecifics and species within vector varying in their dispersal scale, fecundity, and clumping parameters. Dispersal vectors determine a significant amount of variation in seed distribution, but much variation remains to be explained. Finally, we demonstrate that most seeds, regardless of vector, fall directly under the parent canopy. Long-distance dispersal events (>60 m) account for a small proportion of the seed crop but may still be important in terms of the absolute numbers of dispersed seeds and effects on population and community dynamics. © 2005 by the Ecological Society of America.
Clark, CJ; Poulsen, JR; Bolker, BM; Connor, EF; Parker, VT
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