, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 51–64

Importance of seed size for the establishment of seedlings of five deciduous broad-leaved tree species

  • Kenji Seiwa
  • Kihachiro Kikuzawa


Effects of seed size and phenology on the establishment of five deciduous broad-leaved tree species were examined in deciduous woodland. Treatments included absence and presence of litter in the forest understory, a small gap, and a large gap. Seedling emergence of large-seeded speciesQuercus mongolica var.grosseserrata andAcer mono was not reduced by accumulation of litter in the forest understory, but was promoted in the large gap where litter was less. Seedling emergence of small-seeded species,Alnus hirsuta, Cercidiphyllum japonicum andBetula platyphylla var.japonica, was reduced by the litter in almost all of the sites. Seedlings of large-seeded species avoid shade stress phenologically by unfolding all of their large leaves in a short period before canopy closure in the forest understory. These species had little mortality after seedling emergence. In contrast, small-seeded species have a longer duration of leaf emergence, shorter leaf longevity, and rapid leaf turnover in all the sites. These seedlings attained similar height to those of the large-seeded species at the end of the second year in the large gap, but survival and height growth rate decreased after canopy closure in the forest understory. We suggest that the importance of seed size in determining seedling establishment largely depends on the relationships between seasonal changes of environmental conditions and phenological traits of seedlings, which are related to seed size.

Key words

Gap size Leaf dynamics Litter accumulation Seasonal changes in light conditions Seedling emergence Seedling survival 



Alnus hirsuta


Acer mono


Cercidiphyllum japonicum


Betula platyphylla var.japonica


Quercus mongolica var.grosseserrata


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenji Seiwa
    • 1
  • Kihachiro Kikuzawa
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Forest Ecology, Experimental Farm, Faculty of AgricultureTohoku UniversityMiyagi 989-67Japan
  2. 2.Center for Ecological Research, Faculty of ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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