Seed rain in a North American tall grass prairie.

Published online
01 Jan 1981
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Rabinowitz, D. & Rapp, J. K.

Publication language
USA & Missouri


In order to measure total annual seed rain for a native grassland in Missouri, USA, fifty 9-cm diam. sticky traps were exposed to collect dispersing propagules for 26 wk in 1978. 19 700 seeds/m2 were trapped. This figure was much higher (by 2 orders of magnitude) than previous reports for non-grassland habitats, but was an underestimate because vegetation partially obscured the trap surfaces and because dispersal continued into the winter when the traps became snow-covered. There were 2 peaks of dispersal activity: one in early summer for graminoid spp. and another in early autumn for both dicots (mostly Solidago spp. and Aster spp.) and warm season grasses. The number of seeds falling/wk was weakly correlated with the strength of wind for the previous wk. 30 taxa were identified to sp. and 2 taxa were lumped, probably containing an additional 9 spp. The distribution of the number of seeds caught among spp. appeared uniform for logarithmic classes (strongly right skewed for arithmetic classes). The seed rain was spatially patchy and this result may have strongly influenced subsequent seedling interactions. The spp. composition of the seed rain qualitatively resembled the flowering community much more closely than it resembled the seed pool in the soil. There was a 71% reduction of seed density from the rain to the soil pool.

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