Reproductive investment and seedling survival of the mast-fruiting rain forest tree, Microberlinia bisulcata A. chev

Green, J. J.; Newbery, David McClintock (2002). Reproductive investment and seedling survival of the mast-fruiting rain forest tree, Microberlinia bisulcata A. chev. Plant Ecology, 162(2), pp. 169-183. Springer 10.1023/A:1020304212118

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In the southern part of Korup National Park, Cameroon, the mast fruiting tree Microberlinia bisulcata occurs as a codominant in groves of ectomycorrhizal Caesalpiniaceae within a mosaic of otherwise species-rich lowland rain forest. To estimate the amount of carbon and nutrients invested in reproduction during a mast fruiting event, and the consequential seed and seedling survival, three related field studies were made in 1995. These provided a complete seed and seedling budget for the cohort. Seed production was estimated by counting woody pods on the forest floor. Trees produced on average 26,000 (range 0-92,000) seeds/tree, with a dry mass of 16.6 kg/tree. Seeds were contained in woody pods of mass 307 kg/tree. Dry mass production of pods and seeds was 1034 kg ha(-1), equivalent to over half (55%) of annual leaf litterfall for this species, and contained 13% of the nitrogen and 21% of the phosphorus in annual leaf litterfall. Seed and young-seedling mortality was investigated with open quadrats and cages to exclude vertebrate predators, at two distances from the parent tree. The proportion of seeds on the forest floor which disappeared in the first 6 wk after dispersal was 84%, of which 26.5% was due to likely vertebrate removal, 36% to rotting, and 21.5% to other causes. Vertebrate predation was greater close to the stem than 5 m beyond the crown (41 vs 12% of seeds disappearing) where the seed shadow was less dense. Previous studies have demonstrated an association between mast years at Korup and high dry-season radiation before flowering, and have shown lower leaf-litterfall phosphorus concentrations following mast fruiting. The emerging hypothesis is that mast fruiting is primarily imposed by energy limitation for fruit production, but phosphorus supply and vertebrate predation are regulating factors. Recording the survival of naturally-regenerating M. bisulcata seedlings (6-wk stage) showed that 21% of seedlings survived to 31 mo. A simple three-stage recruitment model was constructed. Mortality rates were initially high and peaked again in each of the next two dry seasons, with smaller peaks in the two intervening wet seasons, these latter coinciding with annual troughs in radiation. The very poor recruitment of M. bisulcata trees in Korup, demonstrated in previous investigations, appears not to be due to a limitation in seed or young-seedling supply, but rather by factors operating at the established-seedling stage.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Vegetation Ecology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Newbery, David McClintock

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1385-0237

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

15 Aug 2014 14:02

Last Modified:

09 Oct 2015 15:49

Publisher DOI:

10.1023/A:1020304212118

Uncontrolled Keywords:

carbon limitation, Korup National Park, post-dispersal predation, seed production, seedling survival

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.53832

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/53832

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