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Iowa State University

2018

Plant Sciences

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Community ecology

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Effects Of Overstory Tree Species And Seed Trap Design On Seed Rain In A Tropical Rainforest, Bridgette Kirk Jan 2018

Effects Of Overstory Tree Species And Seed Trap Design On Seed Rain In A Tropical Rainforest, Bridgette Kirk

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Tropical rainforests maintain a high diversity of plant species, but the community assembly mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear. We hypothesized that individual overstory tree species could filter seed rain differentially, owing to differences in species-specific traits that affect forest physiognomy and resources for animals, which in turn influence likelihood of arrival of wind- and animal-dispersed seeds. Quantifying the effects of an individual tree species on seed rain in a highly diverse natural forest is challenging, and thus understudied. Seed rain of very small seeds (<1 mm long) is also relatively uncharacterized because seed trap mesh size is usually ≥1 mm. In a unique experimental setting containing replicated, monodominant, 26-yr-old plantations of four native tree species at La Selva Biological Station (Costa Rica), we studied the effects of four native tree species on seed rain. We collected seed rain of woody species for 14 months in 15 50-×-50-m plots from 75 traps. In each plot three traps were lined with Terylene® fabric of 1-µm (fine) mesh and two with 1-mm (regular) mesh.

Across all traps, the total annual seed rain was 133,355 seeds from 121 ...