, Volume 106, Issue 4, pp 539–543

Sabal palmetto seed size: causes of variation, choices of predators, and consequences for seedlings

  • Susan M. Moegenburg

DOI: 10.1007/BF00329713

Cite this article as:
Moegenburg, S.M. Oecologia (1996) 106: 539. doi:10.1007/BF00329713


High variation in seed size, as is common among angiosperms, may be maintained in a plant species when several factors select for seed size. Variation may also result from differences among adult plants, such as nutrient and water availability or the amount of photosynthetic tissue. In a study of Sabal palmetto seed ecology I found high seed size variation both within- and among-palms, and investigated possible factors maintaining this variation. Seed size was positively correlated with the number of leaves on parent palms. Larger seeds produced more vigorous seedlings that had greater leaf length, area, and mass, and greater root mass. Caryobruchus gleditsiae (Bruchidae: Coleoptera), whose larvae develop within palm seeds, preferentially oviposited on larger seeds, which in turn produced larger beetle offspring. By choosing the largest seeds available, ovipositing beetles thus affect both the quantity and the quality of seeds available for recruitment. I conclude that because beetle predation selects against large seeds, while larger seeds promote seedling vigor, the maintenance of seed size variation may be an adaptation of S. palmetto promoting both seed escape from predators and seedling vigor.

Key words

Palms Sabal Seed predation Seed size Seedling vigor 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan M. Moegenburg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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