Seed predation by rodents affects plant population dynamics and it mayrespond to changes in vegetation structure at forest edges. This studyinvestigates the magnitude and direction of a potential edge effect intemperatedeciduous forests, and it seeks possible explanations based on predatorabundance and vegetation structure. The study was conducted at twelve forestedges in northern Switzerland; in six sites all shrubs at the forest edge wereremoved, whereas the other sites maintained a structurally rich shrub layer. Ineach site three transects were laid out from the edge towards the forestinterior. In six plots along these transects (at 1, 3, 6, 12, 25, 50m) we studied seed removal from experimental dishes, rodentabundance in live-traps and four characteristics of the vegetation structure.For both woody seed species (Prunus avium,Viburnum lantana) predation was significantly higher nearthe forest edge in the structurally rich sites; in the other sites no suchgradient was found. Selectively accessible dishes revealed that rodents werethemain predators, whereas predation by insects or molluscs was not observed.Abundance of rodents (Apodemus flavicollis, A.sylvaticus, Clethrionomys glareolus) washighestunder dense shrubs close to the forest edge. In the structurally rich sitesthere was a clear gradient of decreasing shrub cover from the edge towards theforest interior; a weaker gradient was observed in the structurally poor sites.We conclude that high shrub cover near the forest edge is the main determinantfor edge effects in seed predation, and edges without a shrub belt show no sucheffect.
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Kollmann, J., Buschor, M. Edges effects on seed predation by rodents in deciduous forests of northern Switzerland. Plant Ecology 164, 249–261 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021225728493