Plant Diversity ›› 2014, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (01): 109-115.

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Correlation of Seed Mass with Elevation

 DU  Yan, HE  Hua-Jie, ZHANG  Zhi-Feng, YANG  Ya-Juan, LI  Lan-Yi, YANG  Xiang-Yun   

  1. Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
  • Online:2014-01-25 Published:2014-12-01


The correlation between seed mass and elevation is an important and controversial topic in ecology. We examined seed mass and elevation distributions of 2879 seed collections belonging to 853 plant species and 123 families in China, to determine if seed mass was correlated with elevation. Our results showed that, in general, seed mass was negatively correlated with elevation, with magnitude of seed mass and lifeforms decreasing significantly with increasing elevation. However, among all seven magnitude orders of seed mass, 100 was the only one that was negatively correlated with elevation. Moreover, among all seven life forms investigated, only the seed masses of shrubs and creeping herbs were negatively correlated with elevation, while at the species level, only 82% of species showed a significant correlation. Our results indicate that associations between seed mass and elevation in Chinese species are most likely affected by a complex of factors. Thus, variation in seed mass is likely to be affected by both species genetic variation and environment conditions, and this should be borne in mind with regard to agricultural and forestry practices, as well as land management and monitoring of invasive species.

Key words: Seed mass, Magnitude orders, Elevation gradient, Correlation

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