Landscape-scale density-dependent recruitment of oaks in planted forests: More is not always better

Efrat Sheffer, Charles D. Canham, Jaime Kigel, Avi Perevolotsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Plant colonization studies usually address density-dependent processes in the narrow sense of recruitment constraints due to negative density-dependent seed and seedling mortality. However, complex density-dependent effects may be involved in additional stages of the recruitment process. We hypothesized that seed arrival and seedling establishment are influenced by density dependence acting at small scales at the site of colonization, and at larger scales as a function of the colonizing species' landscape abundance. These hypotheses were tested in a study of colonization of pine forests by oaks in a heterogeneous Mediterranean landscape. Maximum-likelihood models show that density effects switch from positive to negative along the range of landscape-scale oak seed source abundance. Contrary to expectations, high seed source densities limited oak recruitment, suggesting a landscape-scale Janzen-Connell effect. We propose a range of mechanisms that generate positive or negative density dependence during colonization, resulting in nonlinear density-dependent feedbacks that can generate unexpected colonization patterns.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1718-1728
Number of pages11
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Animal-mediated dispersal
  • Colonization
  • Density dependence
  • Dispersal limitation
  • Janzen-Connell
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Mediterranean
  • Pinus halepensis
  • Plantations
  • Quercus calliprinos
  • Recruitment
  • Seed predation


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