Mechanisms inducing spatially extended synchrony in mast seeding: The role of pollen coupling and environmental fluctuation

Yoh Iwasa, Akiko Satake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Trees in mature forests often show intermittent reproduction. Intensive flowering and seed production occur only once in several years (mast seeding), often synchronized over a long distance. Recently, coupled map models for the dynamics of individual energy reserves have been adopted to explain the phenomena. Even in a constant environment, the trees show a large between-year fluctuation in seed crops and the reproduction can be synchronized over the whole forest if the fruit production is limited by the availability of outcross pollen (pollen coupling). The model with local coupling in which trees are coupled by pollen exchange only with the neighbors shows that a strong synchronization of tree reproduction can develop over the whole forest that may be orders of magnitude larger than the distance of direct pollen exchange between trees. However, their fluctuation is close to the period-two oscillation, and is unable to explain observed intermittent reproduction of a longer interval between mast years. Finally the effect of common environmental fluctuation experienced by different individuals is studied, when the annual productivity and the reproductive threshold of trees fluctuate between years. In the absence of pollen limitation, environmental fluctuation correlated strongly between individuals (Moran effect) failed to produce a high positive correlation in seed production between individuals. If both pollen limitation and correlated environmental fluctuation are at work, a significantly large correlation was maintained. Hence, both pollen coupling and common environmental fluctuation are needed to explain synchronized reproduction with intervals longer than 2 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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