Understanding how plant-animal interactions shape plant regeneration is traditionally examined at local scales. In contrast, landscape ecologists working at regional scales often have to infer the mechanisms underlying vegetation patterns. In this study, we empirically explored how landscape attributes (patch connectivity, size, shape, irradiance, slope, and elevation) influence biotic interactions in 1- and 2-year seedlings and saplings of Quercus ilex. We combined field data and GIS-based information under a set of five connectivity scenarios, presuming low, intermediate, and long-distance seed dispersal. Our study emphasizes that landscape, apart from its direct effects on plants, plays a key, albeit indirect, role in plant demography through its effects on seed dispersers and predators. Moreover, the effects of landscape on recruitment differed between plant life stages. One-year seedlings and saplings appear to depend more on plant-animal interactions, while 2-year seedlings depend more on irradiance. Differences in patch connectivity resulted in direct and indirect effects on biotic interactions, which, in turn, produced contrasting positive and negative effects on regeneration at different stages of the life cycle. While jays and wild boars seem crucial to all life stages and most of the connectivity scenarios, rodents and herbivores affected only 1-year seedlings and saplings, respectively, and only a few of the connectivity scenarios. By simultaneously including an ensemble of explanatory factors, our study emphasizes that regeneration depends on a set of key drivers, both abiotic (i. e. irradiance) and biotic (i. e. jays and wild boars), whose effects are greatly modulated by landscape traits. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.
|Publication status||Published - 21 Jun 2012|
- Landscape connectivity
- Plant-animal interactions