A latitudinal gradient in seed nutrients of the forest herb Anemone nemorosa
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Plant biology. - Stuttgart
, p. 493-501
University of Antwerp
The nutrient concentration in seeds determines many aspects of potential success of the sexual reproductive phase of plants, including the seed predation probability, efficiency of seed dispersal and seedling performance. Despite considerable research interest in latitudinal gradients of foliar nutrients, a similar gradient for seeds remains unexplored. We investigated a potential latitudinal gradient in seed nutrient concentrations within the widespread European understorey forest herb Anemone nemorosa L. We sampled seeds of A. nemorosa in 15 populations along a 1900-km long latitudinal gradient at three to seven seed collection dates post-anthesis and investigated the relative effects of growing degree-hours > 5 degrees C, soil characteristics and latitude on seed nutrient concentrations. Seed nitrogen, nitrogen:phosphorus ratio and calcium concentration decreased towards northern latitudes, while carbon:nitrogen ratios increased. When taking differences in growing degree-hours and measured soil characteristics into account and only considering the most mature seeds, the latitudinal decline remained particularly significant for seed nitrogen concentration. We argue that the decline in seed nitrogen concentration can be attributed to northward decreasing seed provisioning due to lower soil nitrogen availability or greater investment in clonal reproduction. This pattern may have large implications for the reproductive performance of this forest herb as the degree of seed provisioning ultimately co-determines seedling survival and reproductive success.