Quercus (oak) regeneration failure threatens many forest and savanna communities worldwide, where preservation of vegetation structure and composition depends on acorns germinating and surviving into adulthood. However, predation on the acorns and browsing of seedlings limits oak regeneration. To better understand the effects of these 2 mechanisms on oak recruitment in the endangered Bluegrass savanna—woodland of Kentucky, we compared seed predation and herbivory on Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinquapin Oak) with Carya laciniosa (Shellbark Hickory), a successfully regenerating tree species. Compared to hickory nuts, acorns were predated more, cached less, and dispersed shorter distances. Neither the distribution of the seedlings under the parent canopy nor browse damage differed between the 2 species. Our results suggest that seed-predation prevents regeneration of oaks in this endangered community.
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Vol. 23 • No. 4