Data from: Ecological niche and phylogeny explain distribution of seed mass in the Central European flora
Vandelook, Filip; Janssens, Steven B.; Matthies, Diethart (2018), Data from: Ecological niche and phylogeny explain distribution of seed mass in the Central European flora, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0st06f0
Seed size is a crucial life-history trait determining the amount of reserves that are available to establishing seedlings. The most frequently observed patterns in seed size distribution are a higher frequency of large-seeded species in shaded habitats and a positive correlation of seed size with plant size. We analysed to what extent realised niche dimensions, as expressed by Ellenberg indicator values and plant functional traits such as plant height and life form, explained seed mass variation in the Central European flora. By including information on phylogenetic relatedness of the species, not only contemporary ecology but also the evolutionary history of plant species could be taken into account. Seed mass evolution was slow and was best explained by selection-inertia models with multiple adaptive peaks as a function of either habitat or life form. The highest seed mass optima were observed in the deciduous forest and saltwater and seashore habitats, and in phanerophytes in case of models with optima as a function of life form. The analyses showed that Ellenberg values were more important than habitat and life form in explaining seed mass distribution in the Central European flora. The often observed relation between shade and large seeds was also evident in our study, but we found an equally important relation between large seeds and drought and a positive relation between seed mass and salinity. Our results indicate that not only plant size and competition for light but a complex set of factors influence the ecology of seed size, and that a more precise delineation of species' niches improves the understanding of seed size evolution.