Seed Dispersal in Tropical Forests
This activity accompanies the video Seed Dispersal and Habitat Fragmentation. Students use data from published studies to understand patterns of seed dispersal and apply these ideas to the design of a conservation area.
The activity begins with students watching the video. They are then guided to investigate differences in seed dispersal between two tropical tree species, one wind-dispersed and one bird-dispersed. Students make predictions about the seed shadow of the two species and then compare their predictions to seed dispersal patterns revealed in graphs. Students also explore the relationship between seed survival as a function of distance from the maternal tree. Students apply what they learn to the design of a conservation area. In an optional activity, students examine the degree to which results from the study support the Janzen-Connell hypothesis.
Student Learning Targets
- Explain how fruit structure can affect the function of seed dispersal.
- Predict seed shadows for plants with different seed dispersal mechanisms.
- Interpret seed dispersal and seedling establishment patterns from experimental data.
- Infer patterns from seed dispersal and seedling establishment experimental data.
- Apply an understanding of seed dispersal patterns to the design of conservation areas.
abiotic, angiosperm, biotic, dispersal vector, fruit, seed, seed shadow
Augspurger, Carol K., Susan E. Franson, Katherine C. Cushman, and Helene C. Muller-Landau. “Intraspecific variation in seed dispersal of a Neotropical tree and its relationship to fruit and tree traits.” Ecology and Evolution 6, 4 (2016): 1128–1142. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1905.
Zhou, Hui-Ping, and Jin Chen. “Spatial genetic structure in an understorey dioecious fig species: the roles of seed rain, seed and pollen-mediated gene flow, and local selection.” Journal of Ecology 98, 5 (2010): 1168–1177. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01683.x.
HS-LS2-2; SEP1, SEP4
4.A.5, 4.B.3; SP3, SP5
II.A, III.A, IV.B
CC5; DP1, DP2