Constraints of seed size on plant distribution and abundance

Qinfeng Guo, James H. Brown, Thomas J. Valone, Stephen D. Kachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

113 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined the correlation between seed size (mass) and spatial and temporal distribution and abundance of plants, using both published data from northern England and 18 years of census data from permanent quadrats in the Chihuahuan Desert, Arizona, USA. In both systems, there were many small-seeded species and few large-seeded ones. Spatial patterns of distribution and abundance were constrained by seed size within triangle envelopes, i.e., small-seeded species had a greater range of abundance and a greater number of sites occupied than did large-seeded species. Temporal patterns of abundance and distribution from the Chihuahuan Desert site were similarly correlated with seed size, i.e., small-seeded species were, in general, more abundant and present in more years than were large-seeded species. These patterns probably result because small-seeded species produce more seeds, are more vagile, and persist longer in seed banks than do large-seeded species. The results are consistent with recent findings from seed bank studies, suggesting the generality of the correlation between seed size and plant abundance and distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2149-2155
Number of pages7
JournalEcology
Volume81
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

Keywords

  • Chihuahuan Desert, Arizona
  • Constraint envelope
  • Dispersal
  • England, northern
  • Plant abundance
  • Plant distribution
  • Seed bank
  • Seed size
  • Triangular envelope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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