Spatial patterns of seed dispersal and recruitment of fleshy-fruited plants in tropical forests are supposed to be driven by the activity of animal seed dispersers, but the spatial patterns of seed dispersal, seedlings and saplings have rarely been analyzed simultaneously. We studied seed deposition and recruitment patterns of three Clusia species in a tropical montane forest of the Bolivian Andes and tested whether these patterns changed between habitat types (forest edge vs. forest interior), distance to the fruiting tree and consecutive recruitment stages of the seedlings. We recorded the number of seeds deposited in seed traps to assess the local seed-deposition pattern and the abundance and distribution of seedlings and saplings to evaluate the spatial pattern of recruitment. More seeds were removed and deposited at the forest edge than in the interior. The number of deposited seeds decreased with distance from the fruiting tree and was spatially clustered in both habitat types. The density of 1-yr-old seedlings and saplings was higher at forest edges, whereas the density of 2-yr-old seedlings was similar in both habitat types. While seedlings were almost randomly distributed, seeds and saplings were spatially clustered in both habitat types. Our findings demonstrate systematic changes in spatial patterns of recruits across the plant regeneration cycle and suggest that the differential effects of biotic and abiotic factors determine plant recruitment at the edges and in the interior of tropical montane forests. These differences in the spatial distribution of individuals across recruitment stages may have strong effects on plant community dynamics and influence plant species coexistence in disturbed tropical forests.
Nota bibliográficaPublisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Masson SAS