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Ant-Mediated Seed Dispersal Alters Pattern of Relatedness in a Population of Trillium grandiflorum

Susan Kalisz, Frances M. Hanzawa, Stephen J. Tonsor, Denise A. Thiede and Steven Voigt
Ecology
Vol. 80, No. 8 (Dec., 1999), pp. 2620-2634
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/177245
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/177245
Page Count: 15
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Ant-Mediated Seed Dispersal Alters Pattern of Relatedness in a Population of Trillium grandiflorum
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Abstract

Seed dispersal creates the initial spatial distribution of individuals in a population and in conjunction with the mating system influences spatial patterns of relatedness. This spatial template of related individuals sets the stage for all subsequent density-dependent and frequency-dependent interactions. In this study we document how ant-mediated seed dispersal affects the number and relatedness of seeds in both dispersed and undispersed aggregations and how these patterns influence seedling emergence in the long-lived perennial, Trillium grandiflorum. Experimental hand-pollinations in two years demonstrated that selfing is extremely rare and suggested that self-incompatibility (SI) is a likely explanation. Our multi-locus outcrossing estimate (tm=1.05± 0.056) confirms this result and also suggests that seeds within a fruit are likely to have the same pollen parent. Thus a highly outcrossing mating system is the initial determinant of relatedness among seeds within a fruit. We tracked uniquely coded, radiolabeled seeds from 30 and 40 fruits in 1991 and 1992, respectively, to determine how dispersal alters this initial relatedness of seeds. Of the 335 and 876 seeds labeled in these two years, we recovered 63% and 76% of the seeds postdispersal and found that 19% and 23% of the recovered seeds were dispersed >10 cm from the maternal parent in the first and second years, respectively. In both years, ant-mediated dispersal reduced the number of seeds near the maternal parent. However, the effect of seed dispersal on the number of seeds in aggregations varied among years. Ant-mediated dispersal increased the number of seeds in dispersed aggregations in the first year and decreased the number in the second year. The average seed dispersal distance also differed between years: 2.41 m (± 0.33) vs. 0.53 m (± 0.06) in years 1 and 2, respectively. Ant-mediated seed dispersal decreased the probability of a seed having a sibling as its nearest neighbor postdispersal by between one-third and one-half. In contrast, seedling emergence was related to neither dispersal nor seed aggregation size in our study. However, the fitness effects of dispersal may be important later in the life cycle of this long-lived species and as such were undetected. One scenario is that plants derived from seeds dispersed out of their sibling relatedness group may gain minority advantage both in terms of mating success (if the population is SI) and other frequency-dependent processes like disease resistance.

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