|SREL Reprint #1936|
SEED-SEEDLING CONFLICTS, HABITAT CHOICE,
AND PATTERNS OF PLANT RECRUITMENT
The ecological forces determining where within a landscape plants recruit and
grow has been termed proximal habitat choice. Habitat choice is imposed first by
a heterogeneous pattern of seed dispersal across the patches that make up the
landscape and second by environmental variation that favors plant survival in
some patches more than in others. Seed-seedling conflicts can occur during both
of these phases of habitat choice if conditions or traits that are favorable for
seeds are unfavorable for seedlings. During the dispersal phase, smaller seeds
may have a greater probability of dispersal than larger seeds, and thus a greater
probability of escape from predation, but they contain fewer reserves for support
of the establishing seedling. After dispersal, environmental characteristics of a
given patch type that lead to disproportionately high seed survival may lead to
disproportionately low seedling survival. Considering three hypothetical
landscapes, each composed of five patch types, I demonstrate that seed-seedling
conflicts can have a major impact on both the overall quantity of recruitment at
the landscape level and on the distribution of recruitment among patches.
Available empirical evidence suggests these conflicts may be widespread in
natural systems. Given their potential importance and extent, seed-seedling
conflicts may play a previously unrecognized role in habitat choice.
SREL Reprint #1936
Schupp, E.W. 1995. Seed-seedling conflicts, habitat choice, and patterns of plant recruitment. American Journal of Botany 82:399-409.