Identification of the selective forces on plant dispersal engenders theoretical argument, empirical study, and speculation. We separate evidence, testable hypotheses, and conjecture surrounding two major questions in dispersal ecology. The first asks what ecological, and ultimately evolutionary, advanÂ tages exist in seed dispersal. Astonishingly little is known about the advanÂ tages to a parent plant that are actually conferred by investment in dispersal structures. Does dispersal enable seeds and ultimately seedlings to escape mortality near the parent? Is continual recolonization of unstable habitats the primary advantage? Must seeds find rare microhabitats suitable for reestablishment? Such issues are addressed through joint consideration of dispersal and establishment-those stages both mediated by parental proviÂ sioning and subject to the highest mortality in the life of a plant. The second broad question asks what general and explicit environmental forces influÂ ence the timing and mode of dispersal. Do climates or seasons favor one and dispersal mode over another? Do differences in number, size, morphology, or nutritional quality of fruits influence frugivore choice, consequently general differential dispersal of species or individuals within species? Studies of dispersal process and mode should be intimately connected. A and, in so doing, to catalyze their union. We
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1982
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