Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (7): 821-832.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019312

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Mast seeding and its relationship to animal hoarding behaviour

Xifu Yang1,*(), Hongmao Zhang2, Zhibin Zhang1,3   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents in Agriculture, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    2 School of Life Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079
    3 CAS Center for Excellence in Biotic Interactions, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2019-10-22 Accepted:2020-02-22 Online:2020-07-20 Published:2020-09-29
  • Contact: Xifu Yang


Mast seeding is a natural phenomenon that large seeding perennial plants perform periodic and synchronous reproduction. Mast seeding has been regarded as a strategy to adapt to environmental conditions and improve their reproductive ability, but its underlying mechanism and eco-evolutionary implications remain controversial. In animal dispersed reliant plants, mast seeding is considered as a scatter-hoarding protection strategy to improve dispersal efficiency and ultimately increase reproductive success. However, animal-mediated indirect seed-seed interactions of sympatric tree species may be an evolutionary driver of plant coexistence. Here, we briefly review the various hypotheses that have been suggested to explain the phenomenon of mast seeding, and we propose a conceptual framework integrating climate, resources and interaction between plants and animals to disentangle the mechanism of mast seeding. We also discuss the interaction between mast seeding and animal hoarding behavior and its evolutionary and ecological implications. In the future, long-term ecological monitoring and molecular biology methods should be used to reveal the ecological and evolutionary processes between mast seeding and animal hoarding behaviour.

Key words: mast seeding, seed dispersal, plant regeneration, predator satiation hypothesis, animal dispersal hypothesis, scatter hoarding