AuthorINOUYE, RICHARD SABURO
KeywordsDesert plants -- Seedlings -- Spacing.
Seeds -- Dispersal -- Arizona.
Desert plants -- Arizona.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractGermination of seeds of desert annual plants is reduced where there are high densities of annual seedlings. This is interpreted as a response by seeds to avoid a severe biotic environment in which growth rate and fecundity are likely to be reduced by larger established competitors. This density-dependent germination response is due primarily to reduced germination of small-seeded annuals where densities of large-seeded annuals are high. Because of this germination response, and because of competition at the plant stage, large-seeded annuals could, in the absence of significant levels of predation by seed-eating rodents, dominate the annual plant community to a much greater extent than is commonly observed. By reducing densities of large-seeded annuals, rodents allow densities of small-seeded annuals to increase and thus exert a positive indirect effect on granivorous ants. Seed-eating rodents and a parasitic fungus both prey on Erodium cicutarium, a dominant annual plant. These two unrelated predators significantly influence each other's densities by their use of a common prey species. Dispersal of desert annual seeds that successfully germinate is apparently not as widespread as is suggested by observations that some desert annual seeds are redistributed throughout the year by wind and water. Removal of plants during seed set significantly reduced densities of seedlings on sample plots the next year.
Degree ProgramEcology & Evolutionary Biology