Journal of Tropical Ecology

Research Article

Input of wind–dispersed seeds into light–gaps and forest sites in a Neotropical forest

Carol K. Augspurgera1 and Susan E. Fransona2 p1

a1 Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois, 505 S. Goodwin, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

a2 Department of Ecology, Ethology and Evolution, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, 61801, USA


A total of 52,467 wind-dispersed seeds from 14 tree and 32 liana species fell into 1720 seed traps in 43 paired light-gap and adjacent forest sites on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Summed at the community level, many more wind-dispersed seeds were collected from light-gaps (61%) than from forest sites (39%). They accumulated from March through May, 1984 to a density of 328 m-2 in gaps and 207 m-2 in forest sites. In contrast, only 33% of the total of 2782 non-wind-dispersed seeds were collected in gaps. Due to the extreme heterogeneity of the seed rain, these differences between gap and forest sites were not statistically significant at the community-level. Gap sites received more wind-dispersed seeds than adjacent forest sites in only 20 of 43 locations and in 13 of 20 species, especially those with individuals of high fecundity near gap sites. Of the estimated 105 million wind-dispersed seeds contributing to the seed rain of the 50 ha study plot, only 4.1% were dispersed to the rare gap sites that enhance the establishment and growth of seedlings for many of these species.

(Accepted October 22 1987)


p1 Present address: Monsanto Agricultural Company, Life Sciences Research Center, Chesterfield, Missouri 63198, USA.