, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 213–219 | Cite as

Seed predation by insects in tropical mangrove forests: extent and effects on seed viability and the growth of seedlings

  • A. I. Robertson
  • R. Giddins
  • T. J. Smith
Original Papers


Although insects are known to be important seed predators in most terrestrial forests, their role in marine tidal (mangrove) forests has not been examined. Surveys at 12 sites in tropical Australia showed that between 3.1 and 92.7 percent of the seeds or propagules of 12 mangrove tree species had been attacked by insects. Seeds/propagules of six species (Avicennia marina, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, B. parviflora, Heritiera littoralis, Xylocarpus australasicus and X. granatum) showed consistently high (>40%) levels of insect damage. Greater than 99% of H. littoralis seeds were attacked by insect predators. The survival and subsequent growth in height and biomass of insect-damaged and non-damaged control seeds/propagules of eight mangrove species were compared in shadehouse experiments. Mangrove species fell into 4 groups with regard to the effect of insect predators on their seeds and seedlings. Xylocarpus australasicus and X. granatum had significantly decreased survival (X 48 and 70%) and growth in height (X 61 and 96%) and biomass (X 66 and 85%). Bruguiera parviflora showed decreased survival (X 59%), but there was no effect of insects on the growth of surviving propagules. In contrast, there was no effect of insect damage on the survival of seedlings of Avicennia marina and Bruguiera exaristata, but decreased growth in height (X 22 and 25%) and biomass (X 22 and 26%). Survival and growth of seedlings of Rhizophora stylosa and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza were not affected. The influence of insect seed predators on the survival and growth of seeds of mangrove species in forests will depend on the relative abundance of seed-eating crabs and intertidal position in mangrove forests.

Key words

Seed predation Insects Mangrove forests Tropical Australia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. I. Robertson
    • 1
  • R. Giddins
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. J. Smith
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceTownsville M.C.Australia
  2. 2.Sir George Fisher Centre for Tropical Marine ResearchJames Cook University of North QueenslandJames Cook UniversityAustralia
  3. 3.SECRA IncorporatedGainsvilleUSA

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