Seed size and plant growth form as factors in dispersal spectra

Mark Westoby, Barbara Rice, Jocelyn Howell

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    89 Citations (Scopus)


    All vascular plant species were listed on 8 sites near Sydney, Australia; 4 sites were on infertile, 4 on fertile soil. Each of the 335 species was classified according to seed mass (measured as fresh mass of embryo plus endosperm), morphological adaptations for dispersal by different vectors, and growth form. The infertile-soil sites had more species and more cover adapted for dispersal by ants, and the fertile-soil sites had more species and more cover with fleshy fruits adapted for dispersal by vertebrates. Species with smaller seed mass or growing to <2 m tall were significantly more likely to be adapted for dispersal by ants relative to vertebrates. An indirect association via growth form was capable of accounting for up to 84% of the relationship between soil type and dispersal mode, an indirect association via seed mass for up to 23% of the relationship; the two together could account for a maximum of 85%. The indirect association via seed mass was relatively weaker because seed masses proved not to be very different between these soil types. There remained a significant residual tendency for species in any given seed size class and growth form to be more likely to be dispersed by vertebrates relative to ants on fertile soils than on infertile soils. -from Authors

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1307-1315
    Number of pages9
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 1990


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