Persistence on inselbergs: the role of obligate seeders and resprouters

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Abstract:

Abstract Aim 

To investigate if the current theories associated with recruitment strategies are sufficient to explain differences in the proportions of obligate seeders and resprouters on inselbergs and in the matrix. Location 

The New England Batholith of eastern Australia. Methods 

The importance of life form and regenerative response of flora species are compared for twenty-four archipelagos of inselbergs habitat islands and for their adjacent matrix. Forward stepwise multiple linear regression is used to correlate measured and modelled variables with differences in the proportional abundance of obligate seeders on inselbergs at three levels of sampling. Results 

A total of 216 inselbergs were surveyed and information on 826 vascular plant species was collated. Herbs were the most common life form both on and off inselbergs. There were generally more shrubs on inselbergs than in the matrix. Resprouters were more common everywhere. However, obligate seeders were proportionately more common on inselbergs. The degree of insularity of outcrop floras accounted for 23–37% of the variance in the proportional abundance of obligate seeders at three sampling scales. Main conclusions 

A model is proposed whereby the mechanisms that influence the abundances of obligate seeders and resprouters are different on inselbergs and in the matrix. Inselberg environments are harsh, arid, have limited safe recruitment sites and below ground resources, but are not light limited. In such habitats, obligate seeders with persistence life-history traits are favoured. Within the matrix in eastern Australia frequent biomass removal disturbances occur (such as fire) and resprouting is advantageous. High turnover obligate seeders with no persistence life-history traits can be favoured in the matrix with a reduced disturbance regime and where competition for light still occurs. Some of these matrix obligate seeders occur on inselbergs due to their infrequent disturbance regimes.
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