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Seed Dispersal of the Tropical Tree, Platypodium Elegans, and the Escape of its Seedlings from Fungal Pathogens

Carol K. Augspurger
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 71, No. 3 (Nov., 1983), pp. 759-771
DOI: 10.2307/2259591
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2259591
Page Count: 13
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Seed Dispersal of the Tropical Tree, Platypodium Elegans, and the Escape of its Seedlings from Fungal Pathogens
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Abstract

(1) Seedlings of Platypodium elegans, a wind-dispersed tree on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, were monitored for 1 year from germination. Spatial and temporal patterns of survival and causes of mortality were examined as a function of distance from the parent tree, density of seedlings, and the effect of a light-gap. (2) Damping-off by fungi caused most mortality in the first 3 months, during which mortality occurred at an exponential rate. (3) Both the incidence and the rate of damping-off were inversely correlated with the distance of seedlings from the parent tree. Irrespective of density, a lower proportion of seedlings died from damping-off in light-gaps than in the shaded understory. (4) After 1 year a higher proportion and absolute number of seedlings survived at distances away from the parent; survival was highest in light-gaps. (5) Fungal pathogens causing damping-off may increase selection for the dispersal of seeds away from the parent tree. They significantly increase the distance at which a parent's offspring are likely to survive the seedling stage and thus, ultimately, may influence tree spatial patterns and species diversity of the tropical forest.

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