Cascading effect of source limitation on the granivore-mediated seed dispersal of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) in secondary forest ecosystems


Abstract Background Granivore-mediated seed dispersal is susceptible to changes in seed availability and silvicultural management, which alters synzoochorous interactions in the antagonism-mutualism continuum and affects the seed dispersal effectiveness (SDE), and eventually, the plant recruitment. We conducted a whole-year study of seed addition to quantify the granivores-Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) synzoochorous interactions and the SDE in the same secondary forests with two treatments. Both treatments had seed source limitations: one was caused by the disappearance of Korean pine due to the historical disturbance, the other by pinecone harvesting in Korean pine plantations adjacent to the secondary forests. Thinning with different intensities (control, 25%, and 50%) were also performed to further explore the synzoochorous interactions and SDE in response to silvicultural management in the second type of forests. Results Source limitation increased the proportion of pre- and post-dispersal seed predation, and made the granivores-Korean pine interaction shift more towards antagonism, with the estimated SDE of 2.31 and 3.60, respectively, for the secondary forests without and with Korean pine. Thinning with different intensities did not alleviate the reactions towards antagonism but altered SDE; granivores occurrence decreased, but the proportion of pre- and post-dispersal seed predation increased, resulting in a fivefold decreased seedling recruitment in 25% thinning (the lowest SDE of 0.26). Conclusion The source limitation coupling thinning biased the synzoochorous interactions more towards antagonism and significantly lowered granivore-mediated SDE, which limited the successful recruitment of Korean pine in secondary forests. Forest managers should control pinecone harvesting, protect the synzoochorous interaction, and take into account masting event for Korean pine regeneration in the future.

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