Local seed dispersal in European silver fir (Abies alba Mill.): lessons learned from a seed trap experiment
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- Cremer, E., Ziegenhagen, B., Schulerowitz, K. et al. Trees (2012) 26: 987. doi:10.1007/s00468-012-0676-9
Seed dispersal is an important factor influencing the genetic structure of forest tree populations. Knowledge about the seed shadow is important to assess the ability of tree species to colonize new and disturbed habitats or to respond to environmental change by migrating to more suitable habitats. In a seed trap experiment, we investigated local seed dispersal distances of silver fir seeds (Abies alba Mill.) by explicitly identifying mother trees. For this purpose, we matched microsatellite genotypes of maternal tissues of seeds with the genotypes of adult trees in the studied stand. Furthermore, we analysed the effect of morphological traits on dispersal distance, and we assessed the number of contributing mother trees and compared the seed density of the closed forest-stand with the adjacent blowdown. Based on 674 seeds collected in a grid of 37 seed traps, a significant decline in seed density was observed from within the forest to the forest blowdown area >40 m from the forest edge. A median dispersal distance of 31 m was determined for filled seeds based on direct assignment of seeds to their mother trees. This was higher than that determined in the previous studies using different methods. Dispersal distance was negatively correlated to seed-weight, but this was partially compensated for by the length of seed wings. A very large number of unassigned maternal genotypes (435) suggested that dispersal distance might have been underestimated. Lessons for future studies were: to perform a full genotypic inventory of adult trees in a defined perimeter, to increase the number of microsatellite markers and to study several sites over a period of several years.