An aggregated distribution of dispersed seeds may influence the colonization process in tree communities via inflated spatial uncertainty. To evaluate this possibility, we studied 10 tree species in a temperate forest: one primarily barochorous, six anemochorous and two endozoochorous species. A statistical model was developed by combining an empirical seed dispersal kernel with a gamma distribution of seedfall density, with parameters that vary with distance. In the probability density, the fitted models showed that seeds of Fagaceae (primarily barochorous) and Betulaceae (anemochorous) were disseminated locally (i.e. within 60 m of a mother tree), whereas seeds of Acer (anemochorous) and endozoochorous species were transported farther. Greater fecundity compensated for the lower probability of seed dispersal over long distances for some species. Spatial uncertainty in seedfall density was much greater within 60 m of a mother tree than farther away, irrespective of dispersal mode, suggesting that seed dispersal is particularly aggregated in the vicinity of mother trees. Simulation results suggested that such seed dispersal patterns could lead to sites in the vicinity of a tree being occupied by other species that disperse seeds from far away. We speculate that this process could promote coexistence by making the colonization rates of the species more similar on average and equalizing species fitness in this temperate forest community.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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