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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  08 Jun 2020

08 Jun 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Shift of seed mass and fruit type spectra along longitudinal gradient: high water availability and growth allometry

Shunli Yu1, Guoxun Wang1, Ofir Katz2, Danfeng Li1, Qibing Wang1, Ming Yue3, and Canran Liu4 Shunli Yu et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • 2Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, Israel
  • 3College of Life Sciences, Northwest University, China
  • 4Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Heidelberg, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne, VIC 3084, Australia

Abstract. Propagule traits vary among communities along geographical gradients such as longitude, but the mechanisms that underlie these variations remain unclear. This study aims to explore seed mass variation patterns of different community types along a longitudinal gradient and their underlying variation mechanisms by involving an in-depth analysis on the variation of seed mass, fruit type spectra, growth forms and dispersal mode spectra in Inner Mongolia and northeastern China. Plant community characterization and seed collection were conducted in 26 sites spreading over five vegetation types and covering 622 species belonging to 66 families and 298 genera. We found there are significantly declining trend for mean seed mass, vertebrate-dispersed species richness and fleshy-fruited species richness along a longitudinal gradient from forests to desert grasslands. However, we also found the lowest average seed mass and the smallest proportion of species dispersed by vertebrates occurring at typical grasslands in the five communities. The variations of average seed mass display high congruent with transition of growth forms. The selection for these propagule attributes is driven mainly by climatic factors such as precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and evaporation, as well as by internal biotic factors such as growth forms, canopy coverage and leaf area. A hypothesis was provided that environmental factors and botanical traits that favor greater water availability lead to emergence (or speciation) of species with large seeds or fleshy fruits with high water content. Due to greater water availability and increasing leaf area, much more photosynthate and allometric growth then ultimately increase the community average seed mass along rising longitude (or declining latitude or elevation). Phylogenetic signal or diversity are not found to be involved into the effect on the patterns. A novel mechanistic framework and model are provided to expound seed variation among species or communities.

Shunli Yu et al.

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Shunli Yu et al.

Shunli Yu et al.


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