Biodiversity Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (5): 572-581.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.10106

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

Fruit composition and seed dispersal strategies of woody plants in a Dujiangyan subtropical forest, Southwest China

Juan Li1, 2, Cong Guo1, Zhishu Xiao2, *()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Bio-resources and Eco-environment, Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064
    2 State Key Laboratory of Integrated Pest Management, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
  • Received:2013-05-02 Accepted:2013-05-24 Online:2013-10-08
  • Xiao Zhishu

This study aimed to investigate relationships between fruit traits and seed dispersal in a subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest. Fruit composition and fruit phenology were monitored using 240 seed traps distributed over 10 separated stand patches in a fragmented forest in Dujiangyan City, Sichuan Province, Southwest China. A total of 10,542 mature fruits, belonging to 42 woody plant species of 36 genera and 24 families, were collected between April 2009 and December 2010. The peak of fruiting and fruit abundance occurred during autumn (between September and December) when there is less rainfall. Plant families with higher species richness included Fagaceae (17%), Lauraceae (12%), and Rosaceae (10%), while other families included only 1-2 fruiting species. Seed dispersal by animals was the most dominant dispersal mode (88.1% of species) while anemochory (wind dispersal) was the mode for other species. Seeds of animal-dispersed species were mainly dispersed by frugivorous birds (52.4%), followed by scatter-hoarding rodents (19.0%) and frugivorous birds and mammals combined (16.7%). Drupes (48%), nuts (17%), and cones (10%) were the most common fruit types. Species with black fruits (39%) and red fruits (21%) were most common and were dispersed by fruigivorous birds, while species with brown nuts (29%) were also common and were mainly dispersed by scatter-hoarding animals. Most fruiting species (64.3%) had relatively small fruits (<10 mm in diameter), and were mainly dispersed by birds, while those with larger fruits (>10 mm in diameter) were mainly dispersed by wind or rodents. Our study indicates that most of fruiting woody species occur during autumn (later wet season and early dry season) and fruit traits of these plants have been adapted by animal-mediated seed dispersal in the Dujiangyan subtropical forest.

Key words: fruit traits, fruiting phenology, seed dispersal, subtropical forest, Dujiangyan, environmental factor, fruit phenology

Fig. 1

The mean monthly temperature (A) and rainfall (B) during the study period (between May 2009 and December 2010) and those during 11 years (2000-2010)"

Table 1

Fruit traits, fruit phenology and dispersal modes of common woody species in a subtropical forest in Dujiangyan"

Life form
Fruit type
Fruit color
Dispersal mode
Fruiting season
Fruit diameter
No. seeds per fruit
Dispersal unit
八角枫科 Alangiaceae 八角枫 Alangium chinense Shrub 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 9-10 5.0-8.0 1 Seed
柏科 Cupressaceae 柏木 Cupressus funebris Tree 球果 Cone 深褐色 Dark brown Wind 8-11 8.0-12.0 20-30 Fruit
冬青科 Aquifoliaceae 冬青 Ilex chinensis Tree 核果 Drupe 红色 Red B+M 11-12 6.0-8.0 4-5 Fruit
杜鹃花科 Ericaceae 江南越桔 Vaccinium mandarinorum Shrub 浆果 Berry 紫黑色 Purple-black Bird 8-9 4.0-5.0 10+ Seed
杜英科 Elaeocarpaceae 薯豆 Elaeocarpus japonicus Tree 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black B+M 8-10 7.0-9.0 1 Fruit
海桐花科 Pittosporaceae 海桐 Pittosporum tobira Shrub 蒴果 Capsule 绿色 Green Birds 10-11 10.0-16.0 8-16 Seed
桦木科 Betulaceae 亮叶桦 Betula luminifera Tree 翅果 Samara 褐色 Brown Wind 11-12 5.0-6.0 80-90 Seed
壳斗科 Fagaceae 板栗 Castanea mollissima Tree 坚果 Nut 深褐色 Dark brown Rodent 9-10 40.0-65.0 1-3 Seed
壳斗科 Fagaceae Castanopsis fargesii Tree 坚果 Nut 黑色 Black Rodent 10-11 25.0-30.0 1 Seed
壳斗科 Fagaceae 短刺米槠 Castanopsis carlesii var. spinulosa Tree 坚果 Nut 黑色 Black Rodent 10-11 10.0-15.0 1 Fruit
壳斗科 Fagaceae 港柯 Lithocarpus harlandii Tree 坚果 Nut 褐色 Brown Rodent 10-11 19.00 1 Seed
壳斗科 Fagaceae 枹栎 Quercus serrata Tree 坚果 Nut 褐色 Brown Rodent 9-11 9.20 1 Seed
壳斗科 Fagaceae 青冈 Cyclobalanopsis glauca Tree 坚果 Nut 褐色 Brown Rodent 9-11 10.30 1 Seed
壳斗科 Fagaceae 栓皮栎 Quercus variabilis Tree 坚果 Nut 褐色 Brown Rodent 9-11 14.00 1 Seed
苦木科 Simaroubaceae 苦树 Picrasma quassioides Tree 核果 Drupe 蓝绿色 Blue-green Bird 7 5.0-7.0 1 Fruit
漆树科 Anacardiaceae 漆树 Toxicodendron vernicifluum Tree 核果 Drupe 灰色 Gray B+M 9-11 8.0-10 1 Fruit
漆树科 Anacardiaceae 盐肤木 Rhus chinensis Shrub 核果 Drupe 红色 Red Bird 11-2 4.0-5.0 1 Fruit
蔷薇科 Rosaceae 火棘 Pyracantha fortuneana Shrub 梨果 Pome 红色 Red B+M 11-2 8.0-10 5 Fruit
蔷薇科 Rosaceae 七姊妹 Rosa multiflora var. Carnea Shrub 蔷薇果 Hip 褐红色 Maroon Bird 11-2 6.0 4 Fruit
蔷薇科 Rosaceae 小果蔷薇 Rosa cymosa var. cymosa Shrub 蔷薇果 Hip 红色 Red Bird 11-2 5.0 4 Fruit
蔷薇科 Rosaceae 樱桃 Cerasus pseudocerasus Tree 核果 Drupe 红色 Red Bird 5-6 10.0-15.0 1 Fruit
桑科 Moraceae 异叶榕 Ficus heteromorpha Shrub 瘦果 Achene 紫黑色 Purple-black Bird 9-11 6.0-10.0 12-15 Fruit
山茶科 Theaceae 细齿叶柃 Eurya nitida Shrub 浆果 Berry 蓝黑色 Blue-black Bird 10-12 3.0-4.0 20-30 Seed
山茶科 Theaceae 油茶 Camellia oleifera Shrub 蒴果 Capsule 绿色 Green Rodent 9-12 20.0-40.0 1-8 Seed
山矾科 Symplocaceae 黄牛奶树 Symplocos cochinchinensis var. laurina Tree 核果 Drupe 褐色 Brown B+M 10-12 4.0-6.0 1 Fruit
山矾科 Symplocaceae 老鼠矢 Symplocos stellaris Shrub 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 8-9 6.0-8.0 1 Fruit
山矾科 Symplocaceae 山矾 Symplocos sumuntia Tree 核果 Drupe 褐色 Brown Bird 7-8 7.0-8.0 1 Fruit
山茱萸科 Cornaceae 灯台树 Cornus controversa Tree 核果 Drupe 紫黑色 Purple-black B+M 9-10 7.0 1 Fruit
杉科 Taxodiaceae 柳杉 Cryptomeria fortuner Tree 球果 Cone 深褐色 Dark brown Wind 8-2 15.0-18.0 40-60 Seed
杉科 Taxodiaceae 杉木 Cunninghamia lanceolata Tree 球果 Cone 深褐色 Dark brown Wind 8-2 30.0-40.0 60-70 Seed
省沽油科 Staphyleaceae 野鸦椿 Euscaphis japonica Shrub 蓇葖果 Follicle 紫红色 Purple red Bird 10 10.0-15.0 2 Fruit
柿树科 Ebenaceae 野柿 Diospyros kaki var. silvestris Shrub 浆果 Berry 黄色 Yellow B+M 9-10 20.0-50.0 4 Fruit
鼠李科 Rhamnaceae 薄叶鼠李 Rhamnus leptophylla Shrub 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 11-12 4.0-6.0 12-15 Fruit
松科 Pinaceae 马尾松 Pinus massoniana Tree 球果 Cone 深褐色 Dark brown Wind 11-12 25.0-40.0 150-300 Seed
铁青树科 Olacaceae 青皮木 Schoepfia jasminodora Tree 核果 Drupe 红色 Red Bird 5-6 5.0-8.0 1 Fruit
榆科 Ulmaceae 糙叶树 Aphananthe aspera Tree 核果 Drupe 紫黑色 Purple-black Bird 10-11 6.0-9.0 4-6 Seed
樟科 Lauraceae 川钓樟 Lindera pulcherrima var. hemsleyana Tree 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 10-11 7.0 1 Fruit
樟科 Lauraceae 润楠 Machilus nanmu Tree 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 7-8 7.0-8.0 1 Fruit
樟科 Lauraceae 楠木 Phoebe zhennan Tree 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 10-11 6.0-8.0 1 Fruit
樟科 Lauraceae 香叶树 Lindera communis Shrub 核果 Drupe 红色 Red Bird 10-11 7.0-8.0 1 Fruit
樟科 Lauraceae 油樟 Cinnamomum longepaniculatum Tree 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 9-10 8.0 1 Fruit
紫金牛科 Myrsinaceae 紫金牛 Ardisia japonica Shrub 核果 Drupe 黑色 Black Bird 10-2 5.0-6.0 1 Fruit

Fig. 2

Proportion of species in different plant families with fruits in seed rain (between May 2009 and December 2010)"

Fig. 3

Number of fruits and plant species in seed rain each month between May 2009 and December 2010"

Fig. 4

Percentage of fruiting species with different dispersal modes related to the total number of plant species collected in seedrain. B, Frugivorous birds; B+M, Frugivorous birds and mammals; R, Rodents; W, Wind."

Fig. 5

Percentage of each fruit type during the seedrain period (between May 2009 and December 2010)"

Fig. 6

Percentage of fruit color during the seedrain period (between May 2009 and December 2010)"

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