Density-dependent reproductive success among sympatric dipterocarps during a major mast fruiting event

In Biotropica
Volume (Issue): 55
Peer-reviewed Article
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Although masting in Southeast Asia is characterized by the interspecific synchronization of reproduction, little is known about the variation in regeneration strategies among sympatric tree species during major masting events. Herein, we examined the hypothesis that non-abundant species achieve greater seed survival per seed production at the pre- and post-dispersal stages by synchronizing reproduction with abundant species. During the masting event from May to September 2010, we installed seed traps in a primary forest plot of the Deramakot Forest Reserve, Borneo. To identify the possible causes of post-dispersal seed mortality, we conducted a seed-sowing experiment from September 2010 to July 2011 in a primary forest plot with high community-level dipterocarp seed density and two surrounding secondary forests with low seed densities. An abundant species (Shorea multiflora) produced more seeds than other species and exhibited a lower survival rate during the pre-dispersal stage. The ratio of aborted seeds was greater in species with greater seed production, while the ratio of seeds predated by insects was not, suggesting that resource limitations and/or greater inbreeding frequency may explain inefficient seed production. Interspecific variation was rarely observed for post-dispersal seed survival rates. Our study highlights the density-dependent variation in reproductive success between abundant and non-abundant dipterocarp species at the pre-dispersal stage. Non-abundant species achieved greater reproductive success by synchronizing reproduction with the masting of abundant species, which might be an important mechanism for sustainability of rare species populations.