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Abstract Detail

Symbioses: Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions

Loayza, Andrea [1], Peña, Mara [1], Squeo, Francisco [1], Rios, Rodrigo [1].

Surviving under conspecifics: the benefits of short-distance dispersal for the recruitment of a critically endangered plant of central Chile.

Seed dispersal is a key process in the reproductive cycle of a plant because it determines the locations in which seeds and seedlings live or die. One of the benefits of seed dispersal is escape from high mortality due to distance- or density-dependent factors near conspecifics. In arid environments, however, remaining close to conspecifics may be beneficial because intra-specific facilitation can alleviate abiotic constraints on recruitment, particularly for plants with desiccation-sensitive seeds. Pouteria splendens is a critically endangered tree endemic to Central Chile that frequently grows in monospecific patches, and less so as isolated trees in open areas. This species has recalcitrant seeds that are dispersed by native and introduced mammals. We compared spatial patterns of seed dispersal generated by each dispersal agent and experimentally quantified seedling emergence and survival to determine the overall probability of a seed becoming a sapling in the different habitats where seeds are dispersed. Mean dispersal distances varied among frugivores, rodents and skunks dispersed seeds the shortest distances (0-6 m), whereas foxes and sheep dispersed seeds farther (10-20m). Seeds were predominantly dispersed to three habitats: under conspecifics, in open interspaces, and in riverbanks. Seedling emergence was significantly higher under conspecifics than in the other two habitats. Similarly, seedling survival was highest under conspecific plants. Overall, the probability of establishment was higher in areas of high conspecific density. Our results suggest that the seed dispersal the pattern generated by rodents persists in the long-term spatial distribution of saplings, and may account for the aggregated distribution of adult plants.

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1 - Universidad de La Serena, Biology, Raul Bitran 1305, Campus Colina El Pino, La Serena, Coquimbo, 1721377, Chile

Pouteria splendens
Recalcitrant seeds
Seed dispersal
Mediterranean ecosystems.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 35, Symbioses: Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions
Location: 202/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: 35006
Abstract ID:194
Candidate for Awards:None

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