Spatial scale affects seed predation and dispersal in contrasting anthropogenic landscapes

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Seed predation and dispersal can have strong, albeit opposing effects on plant communities and their extent depends on interactions between seeds and their vectors (abiotic factors or different animal taxa). We assume that vectors, due to their specific requirements, act at different spatial scales and seed-vector interactions might differ greatly between landscapes. So far, it remains largely unclear, how the interaction between seeds and their vectors affects the degree of seed predation and dispersal in novel anthropogenic landscapes. We expect changes in patterns either at the landscape scale (urban vs. rural areas), habitat scale (habitat heterogeneity) or microhabitat scale (vegetation variability).We assessed seed predation and dispersal of two seed species by rodents, earthworms, other invertebrates and rain in cafeteria experiments in urban gardens and rural field margins and implemented generalized mixed effect models to test the effect of spatial scales and other environmental variables.Seed predation and dispersal were generally low and similar patterns emerged when the same vector facilitated the function. Overall, predation and dispersal were similar in urban and rural areas but when differentiating between vectors, scale effects were evident. Seed predation by rodents and earthworms was affected at the landscape scale, seed predation by other invertebrates increased with higher habitat heterogeneity and seed dispersal by rain was negatively affected at the microhabitat scale through increased plant cover.We show that one vector can facilitate the contrasting two functions, seed predation and dispersal, simultaneously, resulting in similar patterns at a specific spatial scale. However, different vectors might lead to contrasting patterns for the same function, depending on the spatial scale. This needs to be considered especially in anthropogenic areas, where ecosystem management decisions are also made at different spatial scales from private garden owners to landscape planning committees.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)726-736
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 12.2015

    Research areas

  • Earthworms, Granivory, Habitat heterogeneity, Invertebrates, Landscape scale, Microhabitat, Plant species richness, Rain dispersal, Small mammals, Vegetation structure
  • Ecosystems Research