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Seed predation limits post-fire recruitment in the waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Seed predation may reduce recruitment in populations that are limited by the availability of seeds rather than microsites. Fires increase the availability of both seeds and microsites, but in plants that lack a soil- or canopy-stored seed bank, post-fire recruitment is often delayed compared to the majority of species. Pyrogenic flowering species, such as Telopea speciosissima, release their non-dormant seeds more than 1 year after fire, by which time seed predation and the availability of microsites may differ from that experienced by plants recruiting soon after fire. I assessed the role of post-dispersal seed predation in limiting seedling establishment after fire in T. speciosissima, in southeastern Australia. Using a seed-planting experiment, I manipulated vertebrate access to seeds and the combined cover of litter and vegetation within experimental microsites in the 2 years of natural seed fall after a fire. Losses to vertebrate and invertebrate seed predators were rapid and substantial, with 50% of seeds consumed after 2 months in exposed locations and after 5 months when vertebrates were excluded. After 7 months, only 6% of seeds or seedlings survived, even where vertebrates were excluded. Removing litter and vegetation increased the likelihood of seed predation by vertebrates, but had little influence on losses due to invertebrates. Microsites with high-density vegetation and litter cover were more likely to have seed survival or germination than microsites with low-density cover. Recruitment in pyrogenic flowering species may depend upon the release of seeds into locations where dense cover may allow them to escape from vertebrate predators. Even here, conditions suitable for germination must occur soon after seed release for seeds to escape from invertebrate predators. Seed production will also affect recruitment after any one fire, while the ability of some juvenile and most adult plants to resprout after fire buffers populations against rapid declines when there is little successful recruitment. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Publication Date


  • 2008

Citation


  • Denham, A. J. (2008). Seed predation limits post-fire recruitment in the waratah (Telopea speciosissima). Plant Ecology, 199(1), 9-19. doi:10.1007/s11258-008-9407-0

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-52549119917

Start Page


  • 9

End Page


  • 19

Volume


  • 199

Issue


  • 1

Abstract


  • Seed predation may reduce recruitment in populations that are limited by the availability of seeds rather than microsites. Fires increase the availability of both seeds and microsites, but in plants that lack a soil- or canopy-stored seed bank, post-fire recruitment is often delayed compared to the majority of species. Pyrogenic flowering species, such as Telopea speciosissima, release their non-dormant seeds more than 1 year after fire, by which time seed predation and the availability of microsites may differ from that experienced by plants recruiting soon after fire. I assessed the role of post-dispersal seed predation in limiting seedling establishment after fire in T. speciosissima, in southeastern Australia. Using a seed-planting experiment, I manipulated vertebrate access to seeds and the combined cover of litter and vegetation within experimental microsites in the 2 years of natural seed fall after a fire. Losses to vertebrate and invertebrate seed predators were rapid and substantial, with 50% of seeds consumed after 2 months in exposed locations and after 5 months when vertebrates were excluded. After 7 months, only 6% of seeds or seedlings survived, even where vertebrates were excluded. Removing litter and vegetation increased the likelihood of seed predation by vertebrates, but had little influence on losses due to invertebrates. Microsites with high-density vegetation and litter cover were more likely to have seed survival or germination than microsites with low-density cover. Recruitment in pyrogenic flowering species may depend upon the release of seeds into locations where dense cover may allow them to escape from vertebrate predators. Even here, conditions suitable for germination must occur soon after seed release for seeds to escape from invertebrate predators. Seed production will also affect recruitment after any one fire, while the ability of some juvenile and most adult plants to resprout after fire buffers populations against rapid declines when there is little successful recruitment. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Publication Date


  • 2008

Citation


  • Denham, A. J. (2008). Seed predation limits post-fire recruitment in the waratah (Telopea speciosissima). Plant Ecology, 199(1), 9-19. doi:10.1007/s11258-008-9407-0

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-52549119917

Start Page


  • 9

End Page


  • 19

Volume


  • 199

Issue


  • 1