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Seedling size and cotyledon retention have important influences on survival of defoliated seedlings of Pterocarpus erinaceus Poir. (African rosewood)

Research Paper | November 1, 2015

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Hamza Issifu, Adam Jaleelu, Rikiatu Husseini

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Int. J. Biosci.7( 5), 30-37, November 2015

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12692/ijb/7.5.30-37


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Browsing by animals is a recognized bottleneck to the establishment success of tree seedlings. Pterocarpus erinaceus may be particularly susceptible to browsing as a result of being a highly palatable fodder plant. The fate of browsed seedlings is often uncertain because factors that determine post-defoliation survival among tree seedlings are unclear. We conducted a plant house experiment employing a cross-factored three factor design that involved two levels each of defoliation, seedling size and cotyledon retention to test three hypotheses as follows: 1. defoliation decreases survival of P. erinaceus seedlings; 2. larger seedlings survive defoliation better than smaller ones; 3. retention of cotyledons enhances survival and growth of defoliated seedlings. Consistent with hypotheses 1 and 2, defoliation decreased survival of P. erinaceus seedlings and this adverse effect was found to exist almost entirely among small seedlings. The odds of a defoliated seedling surviving was 13.4 times lower if it was small than if it was large. Partly consistent with hypothesis 3, seedlings that retained their cotyledons had a higher number of new leaves than seedlings in which cotyledons were excised, but direct effect of cotyledon retention on seedling survival was not found. Implications of findings are discussed.


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