A small-scale field study was conducted to explain seedling emergence and recruitment of reproductive individuals in a four-year-old Mediterranean annual plant community. The analyzed levels were populations, functional types, and total number of individuals in the community. We hypothesized that the number of germinable seeds positively affects the number of emerged seedlings, which positively affects the number of reproductive individuals. We hypothesized as well that litter mass, biomass of established adults, and number of non-conspecific emerged seedlings negatively affect the numbers of emerged seedlings and reproductive individuals. The results supported our multivariate causal explanation of plant recruitment, although concordances with the initial hypotheses were more frequent at the community level. The effect of the number of germinable seeds on the number of emerged seedlings was found to be robust only at the community level. At the population level, this relationship did not have a consistent tendency and depended on species identity and range of seed density experienced. Litter had negative effects on total number of individuals in the community, and usually non-significant effects at the population level. Litter effects were found to be inversely related to seed mass, and sharper cotyledons did not improve seedling emergence likely by favoring litter mat penetration. Interactions among plant species appeared not to have any effect on seedling emergence and survival, and had positive effects on certain populations. Biomass of established adult plants exerted no influence on seedling emergence and survival, probably due to their low abundance in this community during the germination period. Results permitted the inference of the main stages in the recruitment process and causal factors. They provided evidence for the greater importance of germination and emergence in comparison with seedling survival to insure reproductive recruitment in this community.