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Mode of seed dispersal greatly shapes placement of rainforest trees

eed dispersal categories, they determined that trees with ballistic dispersal methods tended to have the tightest cluster size, with trees dispersing their seeds via gravity, gyration, wind, and fruit of increasing size showing progressively more diffuse spatial distributions.

In addition to confirming the importance of seed dispersal, the results also supported some secondary hypotheses. Trees with smaller fruit tended to be less widely dispersed than trees bearing larger fruit, strengthening the argument that larger-bodied birds and mammals, in eating larger fruit, carry the seeds of these plants over larger distances. Wind-dispersed seeds were observed to have a surprisingly tight cluster radius, likely explained by the dense forest canopy stifling wind speeds.

These results are the first experimental evidence of their kind for an entire forest community, and are in agreement with the authors' additional results for a Panamanian jungle, suggesting the broader scope of these findings.

"Our results provide broad empirical evidence for the importance of dispersal mode in establishing the long-term community structure of tropical forests," Plotkin says, noting that it may not be possible to generalize his results for other types of forests.


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Contact: Steve Bradt
steve_bradt@harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
28-Nov-2006


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