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Seed Removal and Predation as Factors Affecting Seed Availability of Tree Species in Degraded Habitats and Restoration Plantings in Rainforest Areas of Queensland, Australia

Doust, Susan J.
Restoration ecology 2011 v.19 no.5 pp. 617-626
canopy, direct seeding, fruit growing, habitats, predation, rain forests, seeds, trees, wet season, woody weeds, Queensland
The post‐dispersal removal or predation of seeds of native tree species was investigated in Queensland, Australia, at degraded habitats and rainforest restoration sites where direct seeding might be used to facilitate tree regeneration (old fields or open habitats, lantana thicket, rainforest edge, and 5‐ and 10‐year‐old restoration plantings). Seed removal/predation was assessed in relation to tree seed weight and canopy density of the habitats during the wet season period. Results indicated that seed removal/predation imposes limitations on seed availability, particularly for small seeded species. In most situations, larger seeds were less removed/predated, most likely due to the more limited range of large seed consumers. The use of large, hard‐coated seeds may potentially reduce seed loss in open situations (from both seed removal and desiccation), unless large seed consumers frequent the site. Canopy cover exerted an influence on seed removal/predation, though trends varied in relation to site and the time of season. Broadcast sowing of seed under planted tree canopies at the more advanced stages of closure may in some areas result in higher seed removal/predation. Likewise, seeding in areas dominated by woody weeds may result in high seed losses to consumers such as rodents. Results suggested that undertaking direct seeding to coincide with the maximal period of fruit production may in some situations be beneficial to minimize seed loss. Overall, site context, canopy cover, and species selection appear to be important considerations when aiming to reduce loss of seeds to animal seed consumers in restoration work.