Biodiversity Science ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (2): 174-181.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2014.08139

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Factors influencing the fruit crops and seed fates of Pistacia chinensis: the results of structural equation modeling

Hongling Guo1, 2, Zhiwen Li2, Zhishu Xiao1, *()   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Integrated Pest Management, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    2 College of Plant Protection, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128
  • Received:2013-06-14 Accepted:2013-11-05 Online:2014-04-03
  • Xiao Zhishu

Seed production and quality are important factors influencing population regeneration in many seed plants. We used structural equation modeling to investigate how plant and fruit traits interact with each other to influence the fruit crops and seed fates of Pistacia chinensis. From May to September 2009, we sampled 45 fruiting female trees and measured plant traits (height, DBH and crown area), fruit traits (infructescence size, fruit size) and the fruit crop of each sampled tree in Jiyuan City of Henan Province, Central China. The fruit crops of P. chinensis were positively correlated with tree height, crown area and infructescence size but not significantly correlated with DBH or fruit size. The fruit crop of an individual tree had no negative direct effect on the infestation of seeds by wasps (Eurytoma plotnikovi). Such a direct effect would be predicted by the predator satiation hypothesis. Tree height and fruit size had a positive direct effect on the seed predation rate, but a significant negative correlation was found between the seed predation rate and the rate of seedlessness. Our results indicate that seedless fruits may serve as a defensive mechanism against insect seed predators. In addition, both seedless and insect-infested fruits had a negative direct effect on seed survival, and DBH, infructescence size and fruit crop had a positive indirect effect on seed survival. However, tree height and fruit size had negative indirect effects on seed survival. In conclusion, we have shown that both plant and fruit traits can strongly influence fruit crops and insect seed predation and subsequently determine the seed quality and population regeneration of P. chinensis.

Key words: Pistacia chinensis, plant traits, fruit traits, fruit abortion, pre-dispersal seed predation, structural equation modeling

Table 1

General statistics (mean ± SE) of plant and fruit traits, fruit crops and seed fates of Pistacia chinensis in Jiyuan City, Henan Province"

变量 Variables 均值±标准误 Mean ± SE 变量范围
树高 Tree height (m) 7.67 ± 0.29 3.82–12.40
胸径 DBH (cm) 14.05 ± 1.06 5.60–37.70
树冠面积 Crown area (cm2) 92.83 ± 10.41 16.79–333.83
果序大小 Infructescence size 112.01 ± 4.67 55.05–214.77
果实大小 Fruit size (cm3) 0.122 ± 0.004 0.07–0.19
果实产量 Log (crop) 4.49 ± 0.11 2.25–5.59
空壳率 Seedless rate (%) 54.73 ± 3.89 11–99
虫蛀率 Insect-infested rate (%) 22.36 ± 3.29 0–85
完好率 Sound rate (%) 22.91 ± 3.13 0–73.50

Table 2

Magnitude of direct, indirect and total effects (standardized path coefficients) of plant and fruit traits on fruit crops and seed fates of Pistacia chinensis in Jiyuan City, Henan Province"

果实产量 Log(crop) 空壳率 Seedless rate (%) 虫蛀率 Insect-infested rate (%) 完好率 Sound rate (%)
Direct effect
Indirect effect
Total effect
Direct effect
Indirect effect
Total effect
Direct effect
Indirect effect
Total effect
Direct effect
Indirect effect
Total effect
树高 Tree height 0.394* 0.394 –0.377 –0.377
胸径 DBH 0.244 0.244 –0.278* –0.278 –0.388* 0.123 –0.265 0.497 0.497
树冠面积 Crown area
果序大小 Infructescence size 0.465** 0.465 –0.469** –0.469 0.197 0.197 0.222 0.222
果实大小 Fruit size 0.181 0.181 0.437** –0.034 0.403 –0.111 –0.386 –0.497
果实产量 Log(crop) –0.184 –0.184 0.177 0.177
空壳率 Seedless rate (%) –0.603** –0.603 –0.874** 0.577 –0.297
虫蛀率 Insect-infested rate (%) –0.957** –0.957
决定系数 Coefficient of determination (R2) 0.309 0.297 0.577 0.822

Fig. 1

Path diagram for the effects of plant and fruit traits on fruit crop and seed fates of Pistacia chinensis in Jiyuan City, Henan Province. A, Initial prediction model; B, Optimization model. Positive effects are indicated by solid lines and negative effects by dashed lines. Double-headed arrows indicate correlations between traits. The widths of the arrows in Model B indicate the magnitude of the standardized path coefficients."

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