Early seed fall and seedling emergence: precursors to tropical restoration
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- Howe, H.F., Urincho-Pantaleon, Y., de la Peña-Domene, M. et al. Oecologia (2010) 164: 731. doi:10.1007/s00442-010-1669-2
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We explore processes of seed immigration and seedling recruitment before an experimental rainforest restoration matures enough to affect either. Twenty-four 30 × 30-m plots were fenced in 12 ha of pasture in 2006. Seeds were collected in ninety-six 1-m−2 seed traps; recruits were censused in ~12,000 m2 in which establishment was allowed. We tested effects of distance from forest, living trees, and stumps of trees cut during site preparation on seed rain in 2007 and effects of these and soil depth on recruits through June 2008. Seed fall and recruitment were not correlated with distance to forest 90–400 m away, nor to living shade trees outside the 160 × 485-m experimental grid. Recruitment differed for animal- and wind-dispersed species in a topographically complex landscape. Recruitment of wind-dispersed species was random with respect to soil depth or distance to recent stumps. Recruitment of animal-dispersed species was multimodal; partial correlations with number of stumps within 30 m of plots were significant with soil depth held constant (P < 0.025), as were correlations of recruitment with soil depth with number of stumps held constant (P < 0.01). Animal-dispersed recruits were often not conspecifics of adults that had been cut, indicating a legacy of attraction by fruiting trees of animals bearing seeds from distant sources. Ecological implications are that recruitment in pastures released from grazing reflects a mix of widely scattered wind-dispersed pioneers and, where animal-dispersed trees exist, multi-modal and decidedly non-random recruitment of pioneer and later successional animal-dispersed trees from seed banks.