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Eating all or leaving something? The role of partially gnawed acorns in oak regeneration
Research Areas
  • Ecology
We examined if partial predation of acorns could limit acorn dispersal and oak regeneration. We used wire tagging method to monitor acorn fate. Then, we conducted laboratory experiments to examine capability of partially gnawed acorns to germinate and establish. Partially eaten acorns resulted in a 15.1% (N=110) of the relocated acorns. Most acorns presented cotyledon loss in the basal part (60.0%; N=66) and only 10.9% (N=12) resulted in non-viable seeds (embryo damaged). Dispersal distances for partially eaten acorns in the first cache did not differ from intact acorns. 83.3% of partially predated acorns were able to establish compared to 96.6% for intact acorns. We found that partially eaten acorns germinated significantly sooner than intact acorns, with no differences in root length compared to intact acorns. However, partially gnawed acorns produced less root biomass, which could affect seedling development. These results provide that partial consumption of acorns by rodents is not a very rare event, enabling effective dispersal. This study supports the satiation hypothesis at seed level since larger acorns presented greater uneaten cotyledon mass. However, the percentage of acorns with the embryo undamaged was not related to acorn weight, which leads to the same proportion of potentially viable acorns regardless their weight. We conclude that partially gnawed acorns play an important role in natural regeneration of oak forests with ecological and evolutionary implications.
5th International Symposium-Workshop on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal
Montpellier, France
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Frugivores and Seed Dispersal: Mechanisms and Consequences of a Key Interaction for Biodiversity. program and Abstracts
  • Autor: Alfonso San Miguel Ayanz (UPM)
Research Group, Departaments and Institutes related
  • Creador: Grupo de Investigación: Ecología y Gestión Forestal Sostenible
S2i 2019 Observatorio de investigación @ UPM con la colaboración del Consejo Social UPM
Cofinanciación del MINECO en el marco del Programa INNCIDE 2011 (OTR-2011-0236)
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