Dispersal ability may be linked to plants’ life cycles

Science & Technology

Dispersal ability may be linked to plants’ life cycles

Washington D.C. [U.S.A] Jun 18 : Plants have a number of innovative ways to disperse their seeds and get on with the business of propagation, finds a study.

“Seed dispersal is an essential, yet overlooked process of plant demography, but it’s difficult to empirically observe, measure and assess its full influence,” said Utah State University (USU) ecologist Noelle Beckman.

Beckman, with his colleagues, used the massive COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database, an online repository containing demographic information about thousands of plant species throughout the world, to analyze hundreds of disparate datasets of plant life-history strategies.

“Our analyses revealed plant life-history strategies are largely explained by growth, survival and reproduction, and by how far plants disperse their seeds,” said Beckman.

The scientists found dispersal ability is related to fast life histories with maximum dispersal distances positively related to high reproductive rates, a long window of reproduction and a low likelihood of escaping senescence or growing old.

“The faster the life history, the farther distances seeds are dispersed,” Beckman says. “This may allow the species to take advantage of environments that vary unpredictably.”

She said that dispersal is a central process in ecology and evolution.
The study has been published in Journal of Ecology.