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Does a latitudinal gradient in seedling survival favour larger seeds in the tropics?

Authors


E-mail: amoles@bio.mq.edu.au

Abstract

The mean size of seeds produced by plants at the equator is two to three orders of magnitude higher than the mean size of seeds produced by plants at 60°. We compiled data from the literature to assess the possibility that this latitudinal gradient in seed size allows species to cope with more difficult seedling establishment conditions in tropical environments. We found no relationship between latitude and seedling survival through 1 week (P = 0.27, n = 112 species). There was also no evidence that a larger seed mass is required to gain a given level of seedling survival in tropical environments (P = 0.37, n = 112 species), and no relationship between latitude and the duration of the juvenile period (P = 0.57, n = 132 species). Thus, our results are not compatible with the idea that seedling establishment is more difficult in the tropics.

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