Rainforest seed rain into abandoned tropical Australian pasture is dependent on adjacent rainforest structure and extent

Charles, Lachlan S., Dwyer, John M. and Mayfield, Margaret M. (2017) Rainforest seed rain into abandoned tropical Australian pasture is dependent on adjacent rainforest structure and extent. Austral Ecology, 42 2: 238-249. doi:10.1111/aec.12426

Author Charles, Lachlan S.
Dwyer, John M.
Mayfield, Margaret M.
Title Rainforest seed rain into abandoned tropical Australian pasture is dependent on adjacent rainforest structure and extent
Journal name Austral Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1442-9993
Publication date 2017-04-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/aec.12426
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 42
Issue 2
Start page 238
End page 249
Total pages 12
Place of publication Richmond, VIC, Australia
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
2303 Ecology
Abstract It is well known that the recovery of abandoned tropical pastures to secondary rainforest benefits from the arrival of seeds from adjacent rainforest patches. Less is known, however, about how the structural attributes of adjacent rainforest (e.g. tree density, canopy cover and tree height) impact seed rain patterns into abandoned pastures. Between 2011 and 2013, we used seed traps and ground seed surveys to track the richness and abundance of rainforest seeds entering abandoned pastures in Australia's wet tropics. We also tested how seed rain diversity is related to the distance from forest, the proportion of forest cover in the landscape and several structural attributes of adjacent forest patches, specifically average tree height, canopy cover, tree species richness and density. Almost no seeds were captured in elevated pasture seed traps, even near forest remnants. Abundant forest seeds were found in ground surveys but only within 10 m of forest edges. In ground surveys, seeds from wind-dispersed species were more abundant, but less species rich, than animal-dispersed species. A survey of pasture seedling recruits suggested that some forest seeds must be dispersing more than 10 m into pasture at very low frequencies, but only a few species are establishing there. Recruits were predominantly animal-dispersed not wind-dispersed species. In addition to distance from forest and the proportion of forest within a 100- to 200-m radius of sampling sites, the richness and density of adjacent forest trees were the most important factors for explaining the probability of seed occurrence in abandoned pastures. Results suggest that without some restoration assistance, the recovery of abandoned pastures into secondary rainforest in Australia's tropical rainforests will likely be limited, at least in part, by a very low rate of seed dispersal away from forest edges and by the diversity and density of trees in adjacent remnant forests.
Keyword Rainforest fragments
Seed dispersal
Tropical countryside landscapes
Vegetation structure
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID LP0989161
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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