Biodiversity Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (2): 157-166.doi: 10.17520/biods.2014007

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

Effect of seed traits on spatial aggregation of trees in a subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest

Bei Yao1, Jianping Yu2, Xiaojuan Liu1, Xiangcheng Mi1, *(), Keping Ma1   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
    2 Gutianshan National Nature Reserve Administrative Bureau, Kaihua, Zhejiang 324300
  • Received:2014-01-08 Accepted:2014-05-09 Online:2015-04-09
  • Mi Xiangcheng

The spatial distribution of species provides basic information for the study of species coexistence. Seed traits such as size, weight and dispersal syndromes influence the spatial distribution of species through various species-specific seed dispersal. In this study, we collected data on seed size, seed mass and seed dispersal syndromes of 89 woody trees in the Gutianshan subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest. The relationship between seed size, seed mass, seed dispersal syndromes, and conspecific aggregation intensity were examined. Results showed that most of the species (~90%) were significantly aggregated across scales up to 20 m. The strength of spatial aggregation decreased with increasing spatial scales. Rare species were more aggregated than common species. Species abundance was significantly correlated with aggregation intensity (at spatial scale of 15 m, R2 = 0.32, P < 0.001) after removing the phylogenetic relationship among species using PIC (phylogenetically independent contrasts). Seed size was weakly associated with aggregation intensity (R2 = 0.05, P < 0.05), but seed mass was strongly correlated (R2 = 0.14, P < 0.05). Seed dispersal syndromes significantly influenced species aggregation intensity: ballistically dispersed species were more significantly aggregated than assisted-dispersed species (F1, 87 = 4.439, P = 0.038). Long-distances dispersal may lead to a reduction in aggregation intensity. In conclusion, species-specific seed traits and dispersal ability were ecologically significant factors impacting the spatial pattern of species distribution.

Key words: seed size, seed mass, dispersal syndromes, spatial distribution, phylogenetically independent contrasts, aggregation intensity, dispersal limitation

Table 1

Seed or fruit characteristics of species within each dispersal syndrome"

Dispersal syndrome
Fruit type
No. of species
喷射扩散 Ballistic dispersal 开裂蒴果 Explosive capsule 无 No 4 4.49
风力扩散 Wind dispersal 蒴果、荚果、翅果 Capsule, pod, and winged nut 风力 Wind 15 16.85
动物扩散 Animal dispersal
A1 (< 6 mm) 浆果、核果、蒴果 Berry, drupe, and capsule 动物 Animal 36 40.45
A2 (6-12 mm) 浆果、核果、蒴果 Berry, drupe, and capsule 动物 Animal 23 25.84
A3 (>12 mm) 浆果、核果、蒴果 Berry, drupe, and capsule 动物 Animal 11 12.40

Table 2

The proportion of tree species with significantly aggregated distribution pattern in 24-ha Gutianshan Forest Dynamics Plot at different scales"

r (m)
(0, 5] 94% 6% 0
(5, 10] 95% 5% 0
(10, 15] 94% 6% 0
(15, 20] 92% 8% 0

Fig. 1

Spatial distribution maps of four species with different seed distribution modes in 24-ha Gutianshan Forest Dynamics Plot"

Fig. 2

The aggregation intensity g(r) of Myrica rubra at different scales"

Table 3

Phylogenetic signal analysis of seed traits and other parameters in 24-ha Gutianshan Forest Dynamics Plot"

参数 Parameters K P
Log (seed size) 0.549 0.001
Log (seed mass) 0.657 0.001
Log (species abundance) 0.216 0.001
g(r = 5) 0.372 0.070
g(r = 10) 0.423 0.028
g(r = 15) 0.454 0.017
g(r = 20) 0.363 0.007
g(r = 25) 0.224 0.051
g(r = 30) 0.144 0.227

Fig. 3

The relationships between species abundance and aggregation intensity within ranges of 5 meters or 15 meters. The upper panels show relationships between species abundance and aggregation intensity in 5 meters, and the lower panels show relationships in 15 meters. The left panels show relationships between species abundance and aggregation intensity without considering phylogenetic relationship among species. The right panels show relationships between species abundance and aggregation intensity after accounting for the phylogenetic relationship among species."

Fig. 4

Seed size (a) and seed mass (b) are associated with aggregation intensity of 5 m scale."

Fig. 5

The variation of mean aggregation intensity of tree species among dispersal syndromes at 5 m scale (mean ± SD). The left panel (a) shows that aggregation intensity is not significantly different among five dispersal syndromes (F4, 84 = 1.497, P = 0.21), while the right panel (b) shows that aggregation intensity is significantly different between two dispersal syndromes (ballistically dispersed species vs assisted dispersal species) (F1, 87 = 4.439, P = 0.038). A1, Animal dispersal, < 6 mm; A2, Animal dispersal, 6-12 mm; A3, Animal dispersal, > 12 mm; B, Ballistic; W, Wind dispersal; A, Assisted-dispersal."

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