Journal of Tropical Ecology

Short Communication

Positive effect of seed size on seedling survival in fire-prone savannas of Australia, Brazil and West Africa

Gaëlle Lahoreau a1c1, Sébastien Barot a2, Jacques Gignoux a1, William A. Hoffmann a3, Samantha A. Setterfield a4 and Paul R. Williams a5
a1 Laboratoire de Biogéochimie et d'Ecologie des Systèmes Continentaux, UMR 7618, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 rue d'Ulm, 75230 Paris Cedex 05, France
a2 Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Sols Tropicaux, UMR 137, IRD, 32 avenue H. Varagnat, 93143 Bondy, France
a3 Department of Botany, Campus Box 7612, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7612, United States
a4 Faculty of Education, Health and Science, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NR 0909, Australia
a5 Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University, PO Box 5597 Townsville, Q 4810, Australia

Article author query
lahoreau g   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
barot s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
gignoux j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hoffmann wa   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
setterfield sa   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
williams pr   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

All plant species face a fundamental reproductive trade-off: for a given investment in seed mass, they can produce either many small seeds or few large seeds. Whereas small seeds favour the germination of numerous seedlings, large seeds favour the survival of seedlings in the face of common stresses such as herbivory, drought or shade (Leishman et al. 2000). One mechanism explaining the better survival of large-seeded species is the seedling size effect (SSE) (Westoby et al. 1996): because seeds with large reserves result in bigger seedlings, seedlings from large-seeded species would have better access to light and/or to reliable water supply than seedlings from small-seeded species.

(Published Online October 20 2006)
(Accepted May 18 2006)

Key Words: buds; resource allocation; resprouting; root reserves; seed mass; seedling size.

c1 Corresponding author. Email: