, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 360-364

Seed and microsite limitation of recruitment in plant populations

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Availability of seed and microsites, respectively, are two factors that potentially may limit recruitment in plant populations. Microsites are small-scale sites suitable for germination and survival of seedlings. We discuss this dichotomy of recruitment limitation both from a theoretical and empirical point of view. Investigations of recruitment in 14 woodland species showed that 3 species were seed limited, 6 species were limited by a combination of seed and microsite availability, and 5 species were found not to be seed limited, but the limiting factor was not identified. A “combination of seed and microsite limitation” implies that recruitment is promoted by increasing both seed and microsite availability. We suggest that the importance of seed limitation in plant populations has been underestimated, and that the operating limiting factors may be dependent on spatial and temporal scale. We expect that many species, if adequately studied, will turn out to be both seed and microsite limited. Experimental field studies that incorporate a range of seed and microsite “densities” in various spatial and temporal scales are needed to examine the extent to which plant populations are seed and microsite limited.