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Seed dispersal by small rodents favors oak over pine regeneration in the pine-oak forests of the Qinling mountains, China

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Abstract:

Natural regeneration differences between oak and pine are common in the Qinling Mountains of central China. Thus, we examined whether this difference could be explained by seed dispersal. We investigated the seed dispersal of Quercus aliena var. acuteserrata Maxim. and Pinus tabulaeformis Carr. and the regeneration characteristics of both species were investigated in the pine-oak forest belt (oak stands, pine-oak stands, and pine stands) of Huoditang Forest in the Qinling Mountains in central China. We found that Q. aliena var. acuteserrata acorns were usually scatterhoarded, while seeds of P. tabulaeformis were generally consumed immediately. We found that 55% of the released acorns were transferred to the P. tabulaeformis stands. Moreover, Q. aliena var. acuteserrata regenerated successfully and was recruited in the three forest stands. However, the natural regeneration of P. tabulaeformis was very low in all stands because of high predation by small rodents. We propose, therefore, that the seed dispersal advantage of Q. aliena var. acuteserrata compared with P. tabulaeformis contributed greatly to the regeneration difference between these two species in the pine-oak forest belt of the Qinling Mountains in China.

Keywords: Pinus tabulaeformis; Quercus aliena var. acuteserrata; pine-oak mixed forest; regeneration; seed dispersal

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02827581.2013.794250

Affiliations: 1: College of Forestry, Northwest A&F University, Shaanxi, China 2: College of Animal Science and Technology, Northwest A&F University, Shaanxi, China 3: College of Agriculture, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang, China 4: College of Life Sciences, Northwest A&F University, Shaanxi, China

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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