Aims Fruit types and seed dispersal modes of plants play an important role in forest regeneration and colonization. Exploring characteristics of fruit types and dispersal modes in different plant communities could improve our understanding on the natural expansion mechanism of vegetation restoration, which is helpful for reducing karst rocky desertification. Our objective was to study the effects of fruit types and seed dispersal modes on vegetation restoration in Shilin Geopark, Yunnan, China.
Methods Based on the species list of different communities investigated in Shilin Geopark, the fruit type of species was determined based on Flora of China. The seed dispersal mode of each species was determined based on published literature, the Kew Seed Information Database (http://data.kew.org/sid/) and the fruit and seed morphological traits.
Important findings 1) In total 16 fruit types (include spore) were observed for the 282 vascular plant species in the communities in Shilin Geopark. Achenes (17.02%), capsules (16.67%), berries (14.18%) and drupes (12.41%) were the most common fruit types. The most abundant fruit types among woody species, herbaceous species and lianas were drupes (31.96%), achenes (25.17%) and berries (40.48%), respectively. The fruit type spectrums of woody plants, herbs and lianas in communities were not significantly different. From zonal forest, secondary forest, shrubland, shrub tussock to Pinus yunnanensis plantation forest, the proportions of berries and drupes species decreased significantly, and those of achenes, caryopsis and capsules species increased. 2) The dominant seed dispersal modes of different plant communities in Shilin Geopark were zoochory (47.87%) and anemochorous (33.69%). The seed dispersal mode spectrum of woody plants, herbs and lianas in the communities of Shilin Geopark were not significantly different from each other. From zonal forest, secondary forest, shrubland, shrub tussock to Pinus yunnanensis plantation forest, the proportion of zoochory species reduced by 31%-36%, while that of anemochory species increased by 73%-87%. 3) The seed dispersal modes affected species selection and vegetation restoration strategy directly. To restore vegetation quickly and effectively, the species which have natural spread ability should be selected for afforestation plan, and species dispersal corridors are needed.