Natural regeneration of vegetation is a frequent outcome of land abandonment, although the rate and diversity of such regeneration may be severely restricted by seed dispersal limitation, among other factors. In spite of this, studies aiming to quantify seed rain and test methods to enhance it, such as artificial perches, are still underrepresented in the Mediterranean. In our study, we quantified seed rain density and richness and tested the effects of artificial perches on such rain over a distance gradient on seven Mediterranean island old fields. In each of the seven sites, we positioned three sampling stations, each consisting of 1 seed trap under an artificial perch and 1 as a control on the ground, distributed at 30, 60, and 90 m from natural vegetation remnant. All traps received seeds, suggesting no overall dispersal limitation. Of the 11 seed species found, 10 were fleshy-fruited and dispersed by vertebrates. Seed traps under perches received significantly higher seed rain of fleshy-fruited species dispersed by birds, while ground traps received significantly more seeds of the species also dispersed by mammals, especially Rubus ulmifolius. The distance from the seed source was nonsignificant in all cases. Our study demonstrates the key role of vertebrate-mediated seed dispersal services to overcome dispersal limitation in old fields, as well as the effective contribution of even small artificial perches in contrasting such limitation. The lack of differences over the distance gradient reveal that the upper spatial limit of dispersal limitation was not achieved.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 2019|
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation