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Title

Why Is seed production so variable among individuals? A ten-year study with oaks reveals the importance of soil environment

AuthorsPérez-Ramos, Ignacio Manuel ; Aponte, Cristina ; García, Luis V. ; Padilla Díaz, C. M. ; Marañón, Teodoro ; Marañón, Teodoro ; Marañón, Teodoro ; Delzon, S.
KeywordsAgricultural soil science
Insects
Vertebrates
Forests
Oaks
Trees
Seeds
Phylogenetic analysis
Issue DateDec-2014
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 9 (2014)
Abstract©2014 Perez-Ramos et al. Mast-seeding species exhibit not only a large inter-annual variability in seed production but also considerable variability among individuals within the same year. However, very little is known about the causes and consequences for population dynamics of this potentially large between-individual variability. Here, we quantified seed production over ten consecutive years in two Mediterranean oak species - the deciduous Quercus canariensis and the evergreen Q. suber - that coexist in forests of southern Spain. First, we calibrated likelihood models to identify which abiotic and biotic variables best explain the magnitude (hereafter seed productivity) and temporal variation of seed production at the individual level (hereafter CVi), and infer whether reproductive effort results from the available soil resources for the plant or is primarily determined by selectively favoured strategies. Second, we explored the contribution of between-individual variability in seed production as a potential mechanism of satiation for predispersal seed predators. We found that Q. canariensis trees inhabiting moister and more fertile soils were more productive than those growing in more resource-limited sites. Regarding temporal variation, individuals of the two studied oak species inhabiting these resource-rich environments also exhibited larger values of CVi. Interestingly, we detected a satiating effect on granivorous insects at the tree level in Q. suber, which was evident in those years where between-individual variability in acorn production was higher. These findings suggest that individual seed production (both in terms of seed productivity and inter-annual variability) is strongly dependent on soil resource heterogeneity (at least for one of the two studied oak species) with potential repercussions for recruitment and population dynamics. However, other external factors (such as soil heterogeneity in pathogen abundance) or certain inherent characteristics of the tree might be also involved in this process.
Description18 páginas.-- 4 figuras.-- 1 tabla.-- 52 referencias.-- Material Suplementario http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0115371#s6
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/115772
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0115371
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115371
issn: 1932-6203
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