Survival and growth of tree seedlings as a function of seed size in a gallery forest under restoration.
Seed size is commonly related to higher rates of emergence and survival, and biomass of seedlings when introduced by direct seeding. However, few studies have evaluated whether this relationship persists when species are reintroduced as seedlings or if this effect persists after seed reserves decline. This study evaluated the effect of seed size (mass) on the probability of survival and growth of seedlings of nine native tree species introduced into a pasture area, which was originally a gallery forest in the state of São Paulo in Southeastern Brazil. The experiment occurred over the course of 24 months, in which was divided into three separate time intervals: 14 to 61 days, 61 days to 12 months, and 12 to 24 months. Seedling survival in the field was high for all three time-intervals. Seed mass positively influenced the probability of seedling survival throughout all three time-intervals after planting, but the intensity of this effect decreased with time. Species with smaller seeds exhibited higher relative growth rates (height), but only until the end of the first year. Our results suggest that seed mass is a functional trait that can predict the probability of the establishment of individual trees during forest restoration.