Seed dynamics of the mast seeding tussock grass Ampelodesmos mauritanica in Mediterranean shrublands


Montserrat Vilà (tel. 93–5811987; fax 93–5811312; e-mail


1 The Mediterranean perennial grass Ampelodesmos mauritanica may have the potential to expand its range. We analysed temporal variability of its reproductive components (seedfall, seed bank, seed predation, seed germination, seedling emergence, survival and growth) in three microsites (open areas, beneath Ampelodesmos and beneath shrubs) at two sites.

2 Reproductive components prior to seedling emergence were both closely linked and very similar between microsites within a site. Seedling survival and growth differed between microsites, being lowest in open areas. Recruitment patterns cannot therefore be predicted from seedfall.

3 Abundant seed production in 1996 was followed by successful germination and high seedling survival. In the following (non-masting) year, although Ampelodesmos has a low-density persistent seed bank, recruitment was much lower because germination was low and post-dispersal seed predation was high.

4 Our results suggest that Ampelodesmos reproduction is episodic. Expansion of its distribution may be triggered by intermittent seedling recruitment following masting, but is otherwise constrained by seed limitation, post-dispersal seed predation and a loss of viability in the seed bank.