, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 987–996 | Cite as

Local seed dispersal in European silver fir (Abies alba Mill.): lessons learned from a seed trap experiment

  • Eva Cremer
  • Birgit Ziegenhagen
  • Katrin Schulerowitz
  • Christina Mengel
  • Kathrin Donges
  • Ronald Bialozyt
  • Erwin Hussendörfer
  • Sascha LiepeltEmail author
Original Paper


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.


Seed dispersal Recolonization Forest blowdown Nuclear microsatellite markers 



We thank G. Bauer for administrative support, A. Ernst and Ch. Genser for support in sampling and mapping of the adult trees, the staff of the forest office Freudenstadt (esp. G. Groß and M. Morllock and his apprentices) for practical support during the work in the forests. This project was funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, Project ZI 698/5) and supported by the EU Network of Excellence EVOLTREE.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Cremer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Birgit Ziegenhagen
    • 1
  • Katrin Schulerowitz
    • 1
  • Christina Mengel
    • 1
  • Kathrin Donges
    • 3
  • Ronald Bialozyt
    • 1
  • Erwin Hussendörfer
    • 4
  • Sascha Liepelt
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Conservation BiologyFaculty of Biology, Philipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Bavarian Institute for Forest Seeding and PlantingTeisendorfGermany
  3. 3.Department of MycologyFaculty of Biology, Philipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany
  4. 4.FB Wald und Forstwirtschaft, FH WeihenstephanFreisingGermany

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