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Leaf litter affects the survival and predation rates for large and small Pinus seeds in the Qinling Mountains, China

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It is generally accepted that leaf litter covers seeds, which may be beneficial for their survival, but it is unclear whether leaf litter contributes in different ways to the survival of plant seeds with contrasting sizes. In this study, we examined the effect of different levels of leaf litter coverage on seed predation and foraging/caching for small-seeded Pinus tabulaeformis and large-seeded Pinus armandii in the Qinling Mountains, China. Our results showed that leaf litter failed to protect P. armandii seeds from being removed by small rodents, whereas it improved seed survival for P. tabulaeformis. P. tabulaeformis were eaten in situ, whereas more P. armandii seeds were eaten in the high leaf litter coverage plots. Therefore, we propose that leaf litter affects the survival and predation rates for large and small Pinus seeds in the Qinling Mountains, China.

Affiliations: 1: College of Life Sciences, Henan Normal University ; 2: Northwest A & F University, Yangling District ; 3: Research Center for Zhongyuan Cultural Ecology, Henan Normal University ; 4: Northwest A & F University, Yangling District


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