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Detecting plant spatial pattern change after disperser loss: A simulation and a case study

Nield, A.P., Enright, N.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505, Ladd, P.G.ORCID: 0000-0002-7730-9685 and Perry, G.L.W. (2019) Detecting plant spatial pattern change after disperser loss: A simulation and a case study. Population Ecology, 61 (3). pp. 333-348.

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Disruption of seed dispersal processes may affect plant population spatial structure. We used a spatial simulation model and an empirical case study to assess the conditions under which the loss of seed dispersers has a detectable effect on a species' spatial pattern. Our simulation experiments suggested that detecting spatial change following disperser loss will be difficult, except when rates of fruit removal are initially high and then completely disappear. To contextualize the simulation modeling, we used spatial point pattern analyses to characterize the spatial pattern of two large‐seeded species (Leucopogon nutans, a fire‐killed seeder shrub and Macrozamia riedlei, a long‐lived, resprouting cycad) in the jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forests of southwestern Australia. The plant species' primary disperser, the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), was absent from one of the sites we considered, but present at the other two. There was no detectable difference for either plant species in the strength of aggregation between sites with and without emu. However, even if disperser loss may not greatly affect local spatial structure for most plant species, it is likely to be important for long distance dispersal and genetic structuring of populations, so accurate characterization of the dispersal kernel is critical, especially in terms of plant emigration.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: © 2019 The Society of Population Ecology
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