Journal Article

Seed banks on <i>Attalea phalerata</i> (Arecaceae) stems in the Pantanal wetland, Brazil

Christiane E. Corrêa, Erich Fischer and Flavio A. M. dos Santos

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 4, pages 729-734
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr317
Seed banks on Attalea phalerata (Arecaceae) stems in the Pantanal wetland, Brazil

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
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Background and Aims

Seeds can accumulate in the soil or elsewhere, such as on the stems of palms when these are covered by persistent sheaths. These sheaths could act as a safe site for some species. Here, we studied whether persistent sheaths of the palm Attalea phalerata (Arecaceae) are available sites for seed accumulation in the Pantanal wetland of Brazil. We also investigated whether the composition, richness and diversity of species of seeds in the persistent sheaths are determined by habitat (riparian forest and forest patches) and/or season (wet and dry).

Methods

All accumulated material was collected from ten persistent sheaths along the stems of 64 A. phalerata individuals (16 per habitat and 16 per season). The material was then individually inspected under a stereomicroscope to record seed species and number.

Key Results

Of the 640 sheaths sampled, 65 % contained seeds (n = 3468). This seed bank included 75 species belonging to 12 families, and was primarily composed of small, endozoochoric seeds, with a few abundant species (Cecropia pachystachya and Ficus pertusa). Moraceae was the richest family (four species) and Urticaceae the most abundant (1594 seeds). Stems of A. phalerata in the riparian forest had 1·8 times more seeds and 1·3 times more species than those in forest patches. In the wet season we sampled 4·1 times more seeds and 2·2 more species on palm stems than in the dry season. Richness did not differ between habitats, but was higher in the wet season. Abundance was higher in forest patches and in the wet season.

Conclusions

Attalea phalerata stems contain a rich seed bank, comparable to soil seed banks of tropical forests. As most of these seeds are not adapted to grow in flooding conditions, palm stems might be regarded as safe sites for seeds (and seedlings) to escape from the seasonal flooding of the Pantanal.

Keywords: Attalea phalerata; Cecropia pachystachya; Ficus; hemi-epiphyte; palm tree; palm seed bank; phorophyte; seed community; seed dispersal; Pantanal wetland; Brazil

Journal Article.  4278 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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