The effects of seeds size on the distribution and abundances of plants and seed banks in a Mediterranean coastal sand dune

Shun Li Yu, Marcelo Sternberg, Gao Ming Jiang, Mei Zhen Liu, Pua Kutiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In order to explore the effect of seed dimension (average values of sum of length, width and height) or seed size on plant or seed distribution and abundances, the vegetation and seedling banks as well as soil seed banks were investigated in Mediterranean coastal sand dunes in Poleg Stream Nature Reserve, Israel. Three representative microhabitats were selected: 1) open patches in a stabilized sand dune, 2) shrub understory in a stabilized sand dune, and 3) trail in an unstabilized sand dune. Seedling emergence was monitored in each microhabitat during the growing season from November 2000 to April 2001. At the end of the rainfall season and before seed dispersal (May 2000), the upper 5 cm of the soil of the sampling subplots was collected. The soil was sieved and ungerminated viable seeds were identified and counted. Then the persistent soil seed banks in each microhabitat and the whole ecosystem were estimated. The plant composition and abundance of aboveground vegetation was also investigated in each microhabitats. The relationships between seed dimensions and seed persistence, dormant seeds number and total seeds number in soil seed bank, plant abundance of vegetation and seedling, plant distribution frequency of vegetation in three microhabitats and in whole sand dune community in a Mediterranean coast sand dune were analyzed by use of Pearson's relative analysis. The correlations between seed size and seed persistence, dormant seeds number in soil seed banks were also checked. The constraints on the percentage of sized seeds and plant species of seed size in the microhabitats and over whole sand dune ecosystem were construed. Two hypothesis of that short-lived plants have more dormant seeds in soil seed banks and long-lived plants easily occurred at the disturbed microhabitat were tested. The results showed that the seed size of vascular plants varies greatly in Mediterranean coastal sand dunes ecosystem. Especially large or small seeds are very scarce in the community. Most of plant seeds weight was not greater than 10mg. The seed sizes of various plants showed normal distribution. Seed dimensions were strongly related to seed sizes (p<0.05). The microhabitats affected the relationship between seed dimensions (or sizes) and seed persistence. The seed dimensions have a positive correlation with seed persistence in the open area and shrub understorey as well as in the whole community (p< 0.05). But in the trail this correlation was very weak. A positive relationship was also found between seed size and seed persistence in trail, shrub understorey and whole community (p<0.05). But no significant correlation was found in the open area. No significant correlation was found between seed size and number of dormant seeds and total seeds, abundance of species in vegetation and seedlings and species distribution frequency in vegetation in the three microhabitats. The middle sized seeds (0.1-10mg) were both abundant and broadly distributed in vegetation, total soil seed banks, seedling banks and persistent seed banks. The microhabitats affected distribution patterns of plants species that possess various seed mass. Larger seeds were not always less in soil seed banks in the sand dune ecosystem. The dormant seed banks of perennial plants were much less than those of annual plants. This proved the hypothesis that annual plants had much more persistent soil seed banks, and that plants which have smaller seed weight tend to distribute in unstablized microhabitat such as trail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-755
Number of pages7
JournalActa Ecologica Sinica
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Mediterranean coastal sand dune
  • Plant abundance
  • Plant distribution frequency
  • Seed persistence
  • Seed size
  • Soil seed banks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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