Effectiveness of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) seeds dispersing by small rodents in fragmented forests
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The effectiveness of dispersers on seeds of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis Siebold et Zuccarini) was investigated in three fragmented stands and one primary stand. The proportion of Korean pine trees was less than 7% in the fragmented stands but more than 90% in primary stand. Five estimates related seed dispersal (proportion of removed seeds, scatter-hoarded seeds, cache dynamics, dispersal distance and microhabitat) were assessed to see the effect of forest fragmentation on the probability of seed dispersal of Korean pine seeds. Our results indicated fast seed harvest of Korean pine by small rodents at the seed stations and no difference among the four stands. Scatter-hoarding rodents were potentially important in promoting natural regeneration of Korean pine as revealed by high proportion of seed removal (up to 50%), short seed lifetime from the seed release locations and lower proportion of seeds remained on the ground surface. Although a proportion of seeds were scatter-hoarded in fragmented stands, no seedling successfully established due to heavy predation. Dispersal distances were strongly left-skewed in fragmented stands, indicating that fragmentation is likely to be disadvantageous for longer distance dispersal. The effective dispersal was suffered from a very heavy cost as accompanied by a great portion of seed predation and lower level of scatter-hoarded seeds. Failing to see seedling establishment in fragmented stands rather than in primary stand indicated that fragmentation and deforestation have negative effects on dispersal behavior and consequently seed destination. Artificial tree plantation and pinecone protection are highly recommended for Korean pine regeneration.
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