Drivers of plant species’ potential to spread: the importance of demography versus seed dispersal

Hemrová, Lucie; Bullock, James M.; Hooftman, Danny A.P.; White, Steven M.; Münzbergová, Zuzana. 2017 Drivers of plant species’ potential to spread: the importance of demography versus seed dispersal. Oikos, 126 (10). 1493-1500.

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Understanding the ability of plants to spread is important for assessing conservation strategies, landscape dynamics, invasiveness and ability to cope with climate change. While long-distance seed dispersal is often viewed as a key process in population spread, the importance of inter-specific variation in demography is less explored. Indeed, the relative importance of demography vs seed dispersal in determining population spread is still little understood. We modelled species’ potential for population spread in terms of annual migration rates for a set of species inhabiting dry grasslands of central Europe. Simultaneously, we estimated the importance of demographic (population growth rate) vs long-distance dispersal (99th percentile dispersal distance) characteristics for among-species differences in modelled population spread. In addition, we assessed how well simple proxy measures related to demography (the number and survival of seedlings, the survival of flowering individuals) and dispersal (plant height, terminal velocity and wind speed during dispersal) predicted modelled spread rates. We found that species’ demographic rates were the more powerful predictors of species’ modelled potential to spread than dispersal. Furthermore, our simple proxies were correlated with modelled species spread rates and together their predictive power was high. Our findings highlight that for understanding variation among species in their potential for population spread, detailed information on local demography and dispersal might not always be necessary. Simple proxies or assumptions that are based primarily on species demography could be sufficient.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: CEH Fellows
ISSN: 0030-1299
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 06 Apr 2017 15:13 +0 (UTC)

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