Biodiv Sci ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (2): 157-166.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2014007

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

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:2015-03-20 Published:2015-04-09
  • Contact: 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