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Seed Rain in a North American Tall Grass Prairie

Deborah Rabinowitz and Jody K. Rapp
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Dec., 1980), pp. 793-802
DOI: 10.2307/2402656
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2402656
Page Count: 10
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Seed Rain in a North American Tall Grass Prairie
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Abstract

(1) In order to measure total annual seed rain for a native grassland in North America, fifty 9 cm diameter sticky traps were exposed to collect dispersing propagules for 26 weeks in 1978. (2) 19 700 seeds m$^{-2}$ were trapped (per trap for ln-transformed data, x = 126, x - s = 91, x + s = 173). This figure is much higher (by two orders of magnitude) than previous reports for non-grassland habitats, but is an underestimate because vegetation partially obscured the trap surfaces and because dispersal continued into the winter when the traps became snow-covered. (3) There were two peaks of dispersal activity: one in early summer for graminoid species and another in early autumn for both dicots (mostly Solidago spp. and Aster spp.) and warm season grasses. The number of seeds falling per week is weakly correlated with the strength of wind for the previous week. (4) Thirty taxa were identified to species, and two taxa were lumped, probably containing an additional nine species. The distribution of the number of seeds caught among species appears uniform for logarithmic classes (strongly right skewed for arithmetic classes). (5) The seed rain was spatially patchy, and this result may strongly influence subsequent seedling interactions. (6) The species composition of the seed rain qualitatively resembled the flowering community much more closely than it resembled the seed pool in the soil. There is a 71% reduction of seed density from the rain to the soil pool.

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