Density- and distance-dependent seedling survival in a ballistically dispersed subtropical tree species Philenoptera sutherlandii

S Boudreau, Michael Lawes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    We examine the density- and distance-dependent seedling survival of Philenoptera sutherlandii, a common pod-bearing and dehiscent legume (Fabaceae) in Ongoye Forest, South Africa. Short-range ballistic dispersal causes seed to fall beneath the parent tree, where density- or distance-dependent mortality effects are expected to be concentrated. One hundred and eighty marked seedlings were monitored in a 0.5-ha plot containing 30 adults. Our survival data do not support the escape hypothesis. Predation levels declined with increasing seedling density (positive density-dependent survival), but seedling survival after 15 mo was not distance-dependent. Nevertheless, a unimodal (hump-shaped) recruitment curve, typically associated with decreasing seedling density and increasing seedling survival with distance, was observed. In the context of ballistic dispersal, this recruitment curve may indicate a hump-shaped dispersal kernel with predator satiation at high seedling densities near a parent tree. This recruitment curve likely arises because generalized insect seedling predators while attracted to the adult trees also tend to forage farther away. Short dispersal distances, in turn generate the high densities needed to satiate seed and seedling predators. Predator satiation results in long-term survival rates in P. sutherlandii similar to more widely dispersed and less common tree species. � 2008 Cambridge University Press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    Cite this