Assessing frequency-dependent seed size selection: A field experiment

Juan L. Celis-Diez, Ramiro O. Bustamante, Rodrigo A. Vásquez

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40 Scopus citations


Seed size is a life history attribute that affects the probability of seed predation, and therefore affects plant fitness. Compared with smaller seeds, those with large size should be more attractive to predators, as they constitute a more profitable food item because of higher energetic and/or nutrient content. However, predator preferences may be frequency-dependent in the sense that they may be modulated by the relative abundance of alternative seeds of different sizes. We set up a field experiment to evaluate frequency-dependent seed predation using seeds of Cryptocarya alba (Lauraceae), at La Campana National Park in central Chile. Predators (rodents and birds) preferentially consumed large seeds in an antiapostatic manner. These selective responses were maintained throughout the experiment and seed selection by predators was not affected by previous seed consumption. Our results suggest that (a) large seeds are very profitable food items actively sought by seed predators even at low relative abundance, (b) seed selection is expressed in a short time scale and (c) seed predators, by consuming large seeds consistently, have the potential to modify significantly the quality of plant progeny.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-312
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiapostatic selection
  • Cryptocarya alba
  • La Campana National Park
  • Mediterranean shrubland
  • Seed predation


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