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Apr 24, 2009
Proceedings. Biological Sciences
We used parentage analysis to estimate seedling recruitment distances and genetic composition of seedling patches centred around reproductive trees of the animal-dispersed Neotropical canopy palm Iriartea deltoidea in two 0.5 ha plots within second-growth forest and one 0.5 ha plot in adjacent old-growth forest at La Selva Biological Field Station in north-eastern Costa Rica. Seedlings were significantly spatially aggregated in all plots, but this pattern was not due to dispersal limitation. More than 70 per cent of seedlings were dispersed at least 50 m from parent trees. Few seedlings were offspring of the closest reproductive trees. Seedling patches observed beneath reproductive trees originate from dozens of parental trees. Observed patterns of seedling distribution and spatial genetic structure are largely determined by the behaviour of vertebrate seed dispersers rather than by spatial proximity to parental trees.

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