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Migration potential as a new predictor of long-distance dispersal rate for plants

He, T.ORCID: 0000-0002-0924-3637, Lamont, B., Enright, N.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505, Krauss, S. and Merwin, L. (2011) Migration potential as a new predictor of long-distance dispersal rate for plants. Nature Precedings .

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How biotic and abiotic factors interact to shape the overall pattern of dispersal of propagules is critical in understanding the evolution of dispersal mechanisms as well as predicting dispersal rates between patchily-distributed habitats. But which plant traits, demographic and/or habitat factors best predict the capacity for dispersal? We introduce the concept of migration potential (v), a readily interpretable parameter that combines recruitment efficiency (recruits per adult / seeds per adult per dispersal cycle) with level of habitat occupancy for predicting effective long-distance dispersal (LDD) of seeds. Using our empirical (genotype assignment) estimates of LDD and statistics on life-history traits and demographic features for contrasting co-occurring shrub species as a test case, and comparing alternative plant traits, we demonstrate that rate of LDD is best described as a simple function of v. As the direct consequence of life-history and demographic traits in a specific environmental context, v has the potential to predict LDD rates in both stable and changing ecosystems.

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