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Oecologia. 2009 Mar;159(2):389-400. doi: 10.1007/s00442-008-1218-4. Epub 2008 Nov 19.

Seed dispersal patterns in a temperate forest during a mast event: performance of alternative dispersal kernels.

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Department of Ecological Modelling, UFZ, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoser Str. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.


Seed dispersal patterns were studied in a north-western Spain temperate forest community to assess the performances of alternative dispersal kernels during two years with ecologically contrasting scenarios; a non-mast year, and a mast year of the dominant canopy species, beech Fagus sylvatica. Dispersal kernels were fitted under a Bayesian modeling framework. Both simple and mixture kernels were considered for the five more abundant tree species (Corylus avellana, Crataegus monogyna, F. sylvatica, Ilex aquifolium and Taxus baccata). Mixture kernels provided a better fit for almost all species, and the log-normal performed best for T. baccata. No relationship between dispersal syndromes and the best dispersal kernel function emerged. However, we found temporal changes in the shape of the dispersal kernels that seemed to be related to variation in relative fruit production among species and the resulting changes in the responses of dispersal vectors. This reveals a potential role for disperser-mediated indirect effects in terms of introducing temporal variation in species spread. In this sense, our results highlight the need to consider single species seed dispersal as a community process.

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