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Large acorns benefit seedling recruitment by satiating weevil larvae in Quercus aliena

Abstract

Plants can enhance their seed viability and survival through reducing the fitness costs of herbivory by satiating seed predators at either plant or seed level, or both. The former satiates with production of large crops while the latter with large-sized seeds, enhancing the probability of seed survival. We analyzed both types of satiation in the interaction between the Quercus aliena and the weevil Curculio spp in 2 years with different crop size and acorn size. Larger crop size seemed to satiate less effectively weevils due to higher proportions of the seeds were attacked in oaks producing more crops of smaller acorns. However, prematurely abscission of infested acorns in large crop year might compensate this ineffectiveness. Larger acorns in lean year well satiated weevil larvae, as a larger acorn size increased the likelihood of embryo survival and seedling establishment. Although effective satiation by larger acorns would be negated by smaller seed crops, the proportion of attacked acorns that survived increased with large acorn size in lean year. These results highlighted the importance of annual variation in acorn size of Quercus aliena in satiating and defending weevil larval predations, consequently in successful seedling recruitment and establishment.

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Acknowledgments

We are very grateful to two anonymous researchers for their critical comments to this article. We also thank the Dongfanghong Forestry Center for support. Foundation was provided by the Program for Science and Technology Innovation Talents in Universities of Henan Province (No. 2008 HASTIT003) and National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (No. 2007CB109102).

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Correspondence to X. F. Yi.

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Yi, X.F., Yang, Y.Q. Large acorns benefit seedling recruitment by satiating weevil larvae in Quercus aliena . Plant Ecol 209, 291–300 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-010-9730-0

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Keywords

  • Acorn
  • Defense traits
  • Acorn infestation
  • Acorn size/mass
  • Seedling establishment