Fruit Production and Seed Predation in Two Miombo Woodland Trees in Zambia


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    Received 30 May 1995; revision accepted 15 March 1996.


During a six year period (1990–1995) fruiting frequency among marked trees and seed production and predispersal predation by beetle larvae of lsoberlinia angolensis and Julbernardia globiflora of the Leguminosae family and Caesalpinoideae subfamily were studied at two dry miombo woodland sites in central Zambia. Fruit production varied from year to year and was not related to annual rainfall. On average I. angolensis trees fruited once every two years while J. globiflora trees fruited once every two and one-half years. Number of fruits per tree was correlated with tree size for both species. In a peak year fruit biomass represented two to four percent of total above ground biomass but for J. globiflora about 5.5 and 4.5 percent of nitrogen and potassium, respectively, were in fruits compared to 0.6 and 1.8 percent for I. angolensis. The lower fruiting frequency in J. globifora was probably related to the depletion of N reserves during a fruiting year which required a longer replenishment period than in I. angolensis.

Predispersal seed predation was low for J. globiflora (10%) and very high in I. angolensis (65–85%) and for the latter species predation rate increased from August to November 1991 and significant variations were observed among years and pod types. Seed predation rate was lowest in a peak fruiting year and this observation provides support for the satiation hypothesis. The results of the study also suggest that I. angolensis and J. globiflora may have different regeneration strategies although reproductive allocation in both species was within the range reported for other iteroparous plants.