Slope aspect affects the seed mass spectrum of grassland vegetation

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Seed mass distribution in grassland communities of slopes of contrasting aspect was analysed in dolomite regions of the Pannonian Basin. Species frequencies were obtained for four pairs of data sets, which originated from corresponding south- and north-facing dolomite grasslands, thus forming four independent case studies. The data sets comprised 5-15 sample plots and 51-114 (average 85) species. The species were classified using an eight-class system reflecting their mean seed mass (MSM) records (class 1 being the lowest, MSM ≤ 0.2 mg; class 8 being the highest, MSM > 50 mg). Seed mass class distributions derived from slopes of contrasting aspect showed strong significant differences in chi-square tests for trend for all the four case studies. Small-seeded species (classes 1 and 2) showed a positive balance for the south-facing slopes, whereas large-seeded species (classes 5, 6, 7 and 8) were more frequent on north-facing slopes. Species with intermediate seed mass (classes 3 and 4) were not distinctive between the slopes. These results represent strong evidence of increased seed mass in the vegetation of north-facing grasslands, when compared to their south-facing counterparts. Among the phenomena potentially responsible for the new findings, we discuss the roles of microclimatic effects (especially drought stress and light regime), grass litter, interspecific competition and seed predation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalSeed Science Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2004


  • Dolomite grassland
  • Seed size
  • Seed weight
  • Slope aspect
  • Vegetation ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

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