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Intensity of pre-dispersal seed predation in the invasive legume Leucaena leucocephala is limited by the duration of pod retention

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Raghu, S., Wiltshire, C. and Dhileepan, K. (2005) Intensity of pre-dispersal seed predation in the invasive legume Leucaena leucocephala is limited by the duration of pod retention. Austral Entomology, 30 (3). pp. 310-318. ISSN 2052-174X

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1442-9993.2005.01475.x


The intensity of seed predation the invasive tropical legume Leucaena leucocephala by the bruchid Acanthoscelides macropthalmus was investigated in south-eastern Queensland, Australia. The number of seeds damaged by A. macropthalmus as a proportion of total seeds available was found to increase the longer the pods remained on the tree. Seed predation ranged from a mean of 10.75% of seeds on pods that remained on the plant for 1 month and increased to 53.54% for pods that remained of the plant for 4 months. The low bruchid populations at high pod densities results in ‘predator satiation’. However, pods dehisce over time and the proportion of pods available over time to the bruchid correspondingly declines. By the time bruchid densities build up, most pods have dehisced and the seeds consequently escape predation. As a result the number of seeds lost to bruchid damage increases only marginally over time. Despite the levels of seed predation observed over the course of the study, the number of seeds in the soil seedbank almost doubled over time increasing from 8.5 seeds m−3 to 15.5 seeds m−3 over a 4-month period. Levels of seed predation and addition of seeds to the soil seedbank were not correlated. The taxonomic (subspecies) status and apparency of host plants as measured by plant and patch traits (average plant height, density of podding plants and patch size) did not influence levels of seed predation. Pre-dispersal seed predation studies need to take into account the pod/seed retention behaviour of the plant. The ability of the bruchid to regulate the invasiveness of Leucaena through influencing its demography is likely to be diminished if the insect populations cannot increase rapidly enough to use the seeds before pod dehiscence.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant culture > Seeds. Seed technology
Plant pests and diseases > Weeds, parasitic plants etc
Live Archive:05 Feb 2024 00:01
Last Modified:05 Feb 2024 00:01

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