Tail-dependence of masting synchrony results in continent-wide seed scarcity

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Jakub Szymkowiak, Jessie Foest, Andrew Hacket-Pain, Valentin Journe, Davide Ascoli, Michał Bogdziewicz


Spatial synchrony may be tail-dependent, meaning it is stronger for peaks rather than troughs, or vice versa. High interannual variation in seed production in perennial plants, called masting, can be synchronized at subcontinental scales, triggering extensive resource pulses or famines. We used data from 99 populations of European beech (\emph{Fagus sylvatica}) to examine whether masting synchrony differs between mast peaks and years of seed scarcity. Our results revealed that seed scarcity occurs simultaneously across the majority of the species range, extending to populations separated by distances up to 1800 km. Mast peaks were spatially synchronized at distances up to 1000 km and synchrony was geographically concentrated in northeastern Europe. Extensive synchrony in the masting lower tail means that famines caused by beech seed scarcity are amplified by their extensive spatial synchrony, with diverse consequences for food web functioning and climate change biology.




Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences


Moran effect, mast seeding, geography of synchrony, pulsed resources, plant reproduction, seed production, spatial synchrony, tail-dependent synchrony


Published: 2024-06-06 11:22


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data and Code Availability Statement:
The data and R code used in this study have been deposited in the Open Science Framework (\href{}{OSF}): \url{https://osf.io/vny4b/?view_only=5e233556ebed48e79fa89ef3ec002544}.