Fundamentally, seed dispersal represents â€œone of the most ecologically significant plant-animal mutualisms and it is central for understanding plant population and community structureâ€ (Bronstein, AlarcÃ³n & Gerber, 2006). Depending on the kind of interaction, the net outcome could eventuate in mutualism or antagonism. Nevertheless, the location of the seed after dispersal is what determines whether a seed would grow or not. Therefore, it follows that there are indeed sites that could support seed recruitment in a community while others would not. The microsites that would support seed recruitment (safe sites) provide protection of seeds from predators and at the same time support their growth.
In essence, seeds must be secured from discovery by predators to enhance their chances of growth. Some of the protective sites include a probable crack present in the soil that a seed might land in, a canopy of leafy plants, and a covering of trash. Nonetheless, this should enhance the ecological factors that boost seed recruitment in a community. Given seed protection, the act of dispersal may on the other handguard seeds from predators.
Seeds that find themselves by chance within a parentâ€™s proximity are more susceptible to predator attack than those that are far away (Zwolak & Crone, 2012). In essence, these seeds would easily be spotted by predators that target the parent. Moreover, even if the seeds are dispersed far away from the parents, they might present a potential target for attack by predators when they happen in clusters. For instance, this is common in legumes that have seeds embedded within pods. If by chance the pods fail to burst in the course of dispersion then the seeds will be in clusters. Consequently, they would easily be spotted by a predator (OrdoÃ±ez, Molowny-Horas & Retana, 2006).
Noteworthy, some seeds are responsible for protecting themselves from predator attacks thanks to their peculiar nature. In essence, seed discovery and consumption are two separate things. The fact that a seed has been spotted by a predator does not mean that it is in jeopardy. Different kinds of seeds offer unique and varied modes of predator repellant traits. For instance, some seeds have a bad taste while others are toxic to predators.
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