Can dispersal investment explain why tall plant species achieve longer dispersal distances than short plant species?

Thomson, Fiona J., Letten, Andrew D., Tamme, Riin, Edwards, Will, and Moles, Angela T. (2018) Can dispersal investment explain why tall plant species achieve longer dispersal distances than short plant species? New Phytologist, 217 (1). pp. 407-415.

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Tall plant species disperse further distances than do short species, within and across dispersal syndromes, yet the driver underpinning this relationship is unclear. The ability of taller plants to invest more in dispersal structures may explain the positive relationship between plant height and dispersal distance. Here, we quantify the cross-species relationships between presence of dispersal structures, dispersal investment plant height and dispersal distance.

Plant height, dispersal syndrome and dispersal investment data were collated for 1613 species from the literature, with dispersal distance data collated for 114 species.

We find that species with high dispersal investment disperse further than do species with low dispersal investment. Tall species have a greater probability of having dispersal structures on their seeds compared with short species. For species with dispersal structures on their seeds, plant height is very weakly related to dispersal investment.

Our results provide the first global confirmation of the dispersal investment-distance hypothesis, and show dispersal investment can be used for predicting species dispersal distances. However, our results and those of previous studies indicate plant height is still the best proxy for estimating species dispersal distances due to it being such a readily available plant trait.

Item ID: 53407
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0028-646X
Keywords: diaspore, dispersal distance, dispersal investment, dispersal structure mass, plant height, plant traits, seed dispersal, seed mass
Funders: Marsden Fund, Royal Society of New Zealand
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2018 07:30
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3007 Forestry sciences > 300703 Forest ecosystems @ 70%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3108 Plant biology > 310899 Plant biology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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