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Spatial components of dispersal and survival for seeds and seedlings of two codominant tree species in the tropical rain forest of Guyana



Spatial components of dispersal and survival for seeds and seedlings of two codominant tree species in the tropical rain forest of Guyana



Tropical Ecology 38(2): 343-355, Winter



The spatial distribution of cohorts of seeds and seedlings of two very abundant tree species, Chlorocardium rodiei and Dicymbe altsonii, was studied in two 1 ha study sites in the tropical min forest in Guyana. The seeds of both species are large and dispersed by gravity (Chlorocardium) or explosive dehiscence (Dicymbe). In the first few months after fruiting, the distribution of Dicymbe seedlings in 1 m2 plots in the centre of each 25m2 cell at the study sites was not limited by dispersal. In contrast, the distribution of Chlorocardium seeds was limited by dispersal, and very few seeds were present in areas beyond 15 m from the nearest adult. For both species the seed and seedling density below the crown (within 7.5 m from the trunk) was significantly higher than beyond the crown area. Comparison of the spatial distribution of individuals belonging to different size classes indicated that, in general, larger individuals were distributed at larger distances from the nearest conspecific adult than smaller individuals. This observation is in indirect support of the predictions of the Janzen-Connell model. Direct support for these predictions could be gathered by comparing the distribution patterns of Dicymbe seedlings belonging to the same cohorts in time. Log-linear analysis indicated that over the first year (Cohort 1993) and over the second to fourth year (Cohort 1991) after dispersal mortality depended on the density of the seedlings, but not on the distance from the nearest potential parent. Further analysis showed that apart from initial seedling density, increased light levels were associated with higher survival in Dicymbe seedlings between 2 and 4 years after dispersal. It is concluded that a Janzen-Connell spacing mechanism seems to be present in both species, but that it is not strong enough to prevent these species from becoming very abundant of even dominant in these forests, or to maintain a high diversity.

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