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Spatial patterns of an endemic Mediterranean palm recolonizing old fields

AuthorsJácome-Flores, M.E. ; Delibes, M. ; Wiegand, Thosten; Fedriani, José M.
KeywordsC. humilis
Colonization front
Endozoochorous seed dispersal,
Mediterranean scrubland
Plant size patterns
Point pattern analysis
Thomas point process models
Issue Date2016
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationEcology and Evolution, 1-13 (2016)
AbstractThroughout Europe, increased levels of land abandonment lead to (re)colonization of old lands by forests and shrublands. Very little is known about the spatial pattern of plants recolonizing such old fields. We mapped in two 21–22-ha plots, located in the Doñana National Park (Spain), all adult individuals of the endozoochorous dwarf palm Chamaerops humilis L. and determined their sex and sizes. We used techniques of spatial point pattern analysis (SPPA) to precisely quantify the spatial structure of these C. humilis populations. The objective was to identify potential processes generating the patterns and their likely consequences on palm reproductive success. We used (1) Thomas point process models to describe the clustering of the populations, (2) random labeling to test the sexual spatial segregation, and (3) mark correlation functions to assess spatial structure in plant sizes. Plants in both plots showed two critical scales of clustering, with small clusters of a radius of 2.8–4 m nested within large clusters with 38–44 m radius. Additional to the clustered individuals, 11% and 27% of all C. humilis individuals belonged to a random pattern that was independently superimposed to the clustered pattern. The complex spatial pattern of C. humilis could be explained by the effect of different seed-dispersers and predators’ behavior and their relative abundances. Plant sexes had no spatial segregation. Plant sizes showed a spatial aggregation inside the clusters, with a decreasing correlation with distance. Clustering of C. humilis is strongly reliant on its seed dispersers and stressful environmental conditions. However, it seems that the spatial patterns and dispersal strategies of the dwarf palm make it a successful plant for new habitat colonization. Our results provide new information on the colonization ability of C. humilis and can help to develop management strategies to recover plant populations
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2504
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