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Oecologia. 2005 Jan;142(3):378-87. Epub 2004 Oct 19.

Light-dependent changes in the relationship between seed mass and seedling traits: a meta-analysis for rain forest tree species.

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Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Seed mass is considered to be an important attribute for the establishment success of plant species being linked with their seed production, establishment, and survival. This meta-analysis shows that seed mass is also closely correlated to growth-related species attributes of the established phase of rain forest tree species, and that the strength of this relationship varies with light conditions. Seed mass is an especially good predictor of species traits under high-light conditions, when the species attain their full growth potential. At high irradiance (>20% of full light) seed mass is negatively correlated with RGR, NAR, LAR, SLA and LMF. At low irradiance (<5% of full light), seed mass is only negatively correlated with LAR and SLA. Correlations between seed mass and morphological traits are therefore strongest at low irradiance where light interception is important. Conversely, correlations between seed mass and a physiological trait are strongest at high irradiance, where maximization of photosynthetic rates is important. The strength of the correlation between growth parameters and seed mass declines over time, and disappears after 1-4 years. Seed mass appears to be a good proxy for the shade tolerance of tropical tree species, especially at the younger stages of the life cycle.

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