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Data from: Temporal change and determinants of maternal reproductive success in an expanding oak forest stand


Gerzabek, Gabriel; Oddou-Muratorio, Sylvie; Hampe, Arndt (2017), Data from: Temporal change and determinants of maternal reproductive success in an expanding oak forest stand, Dryad, Dataset,


Global change is generating widespread local-scale expansions of tree populations. During demographic expansions, even small differences in individual reproductive success can generate large differences in the genetic composition of the resulting population. Colonizing tree populations almost invariably show highly skewed distributions of seed production, but the evolution of this reproductive skew during plant recruitment remains understudied. We examine how recruit mortality modifies initial patterns of acorn dispersal and maternal reproductive success in a recently established, expanding Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) forest stand and test different predictors of successful recruit establishment. We mapped and genotyped a cohort of seedlings (n = 809) emerging within and around the stand (n = 254 adult trees), identified their habitats and monitored their fate until an age of 3 years. Their mother trees were inferred by Bayesian parentage analysis, and the number of assigned descendants was used as a proxy for tree maternal fertility. We examined temporal trends in tree fertility and patterns of dispersal, and tested effects of seed number-quality trade-offs, dispersal failure, dispersal distance and habitat of propagule arrival on the probability of seedling establishment. We observed marked inequality in maternal reproductive success at the time of seedling emergence. A positive relationship between tree fertility and the proportion of non-dispersed seedlings pointed to disperser satiation. An overall seedling mortality of 69% generated considerable reshuffling in the fertility ranking of individual trees. Non-dispersal more than doubled seedling mortality. The establishment success of actually dispersed seedlings was independent of mother fertility and dispersal distance but strongly related to the habitat of arrival. Recruit survival was markedly higher in pine plantations or non-forested areas than in broadleaved forest. Synthesis. A few highly fertile trees dominated reproduction in the stand. Differential recruitment success tended to reduce their initial advantage, however, suggesting that reproductive inequality might rapidly decline as more trees start to reproduce along the expansion process. Our results also suggest that field estimates of size or seed production are unlikely to provide reliable estimates of lifetime reproductive success in trees.

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