, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 1–8

Seed, dispersal, microsite, habitat and recruitment limitation: identification of terms and concepts in studies of limitations

Concepts, reviews, and syntheses


Recently, there is an increase in number of studies concerned with the effect of various types of limitations on species local population size and distribution pattern at the landscape scale. The terminology used to describe these limitations is, however, very inconsistent. Since the different terms often appear in conclusions of the papers, the inconsistency in their use obscures the message of these papers. In this study, we review the current uses of these terms, identify the basic concepts involved in the discussion of a limitation and link the concepts with the currently used terms. Finally, we discuss the experimental approaches used to assess the different types of limitations. We differentiated four basic concepts resulting from the combination of limitation by environment versus ability to grow and spread, and two spatial scales (local and regional scale). The two concepts at each spatial scale are expected to form a gradient of all possible combinations of the two respective types of limitations. In the considerations of various experimental approaches used to assess these limitations, we conclude that sowing experiments, i.e. seed addition into existing populations or seed introduction into unoccupied habitats, are the only reliable types of evidence for the different types of limitations.


Carrying capacity Dispersal Habitat occupancy Population Sowing 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BotanyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPruhoniceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPrahaCzech Republic

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