There is little consistent evidence for evolutionary associations from seed production to seedling fitness. In this study, 20 species of Rhododendron genus were selected from subtropical forests of southwest China; the life-history functional traits such as the seed size, seed number per twig, germination traits, dispersal and seedling survival were investigated, the ecological relationships among them were tested and the advantages of small-seeded species were discussed. The results show that the quantitative parameters of germination, such as the germination rate, potential, and index are positively correlated with seed number produced per stem, while temporal parameters, such as germination peak timing and duration are positively correlated with seed size. The two results indicate that different Rhododendron species with different seed sizes and relative seed number can deal with varying environments according to spatial dispersal or time dispersal, respectively, and the advantages of smaller seeds in the aspect of sprouting vigour, dispersal ability and seedling survival may lay the foundation for the establishment of small-seeded plants in the forest.
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Vol. 67 • No. 1