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Forests 2016, 7(2), 47; doi:10.3390/f7020047

Evidence on the Adaptive Recruitment of Chinese Cork Oak (Quercus variabilis Bl.): Influence on Repeated Germination and Constraint Germination by Food-Hoarding Animals

1
Institute of Biodiversity and Ecology, Zhengzhou University, 100 Kexue Road, Gaoxin District, Zhengzhou, Henan Province 450001, China
2
Department of Basic Sciences, School of Medicine, Copperbelt University, P.O. Box 71191, Ndola 10101, Zambia
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jean-Claude Ruel and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 16 September 2015 / Revised: 7 January 2016 / Accepted: 14 February 2016 / Published: 20 February 2016
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Abstract

In drought temperate forest, seedling recruitment is highly dependent on seed burial by native animal dispersers. To prolong seed storage, animals often take measures to impede seed germination. Aiming to understand the strategic balance between the natural seed germination and the role played by animals in the constraint germination procedures, we investigated the stages on the germinated acorns of Chinese cork oak (Quercus variabilis Bl.) and the rodents’ behavior on the consequential delay in developmental processes of acorns in Mt. Taihangshan area of Jiyuan, Henan, China. The results showed that (1) Apodemus peninsulae Thomas excise radicles from germinated acorns before hoarding; (2) radicle-excised acorns re-germinate successfully if the excised radicle was un-lignified, but reverse if excised radicle was lignified; and (3) seedlings derived from radicle-excised acorns produce more lateral roots than that of sound acorns. We conclude that rodents take the radicle-excision behavior as a deliberate mechanism to slow the rapid germination of acorns; nevertheless, the acorns adaptively respond to this negative treatment and counteract the constraint from rodents by regermination to preserve the viability of the seeds. Consequently, this plays a significant role in forest recruitment. This study proves the new survival model of Chinese cork oak against animal predation, and will broaden theories of animal-forest interaction, forest succession and can be used as a meaningful venture to temperate forest restoration efforts. View Full-Text
Keywords: temperate forest; radicle-excision; re-germination; lignification; seedling establishment temperate forest; radicle-excision; re-germination; lignification; seedling establishment
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhang, Y.; Shi, Y.; Sichilima, A.M.; Zhu, M.; Lu, J. Evidence on the Adaptive Recruitment of Chinese Cork Oak (Quercus variabilis Bl.): Influence on Repeated Germination and Constraint Germination by Food-Hoarding Animals. Forests 2016, 7, 47.

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