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Experimental and Structural Investigations of Anemochorous Dispersal

Isabell Hensen and Caroline Müller
Plant Ecology
Vol. 133, No. 2 (1997), pp. 169-180
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20050553
Page Count: 12
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Experimental and Structural Investigations of Anemochorous Dispersal
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Abstract

The present paper describes the anemochorous dispersal of representative diaspores of Asteraceae, Dipsacaceae, and Poaceae from xerothermic grassland communities of Central and Northeastern Germany. For eleven species, potential dispersal distance was determined by fall velocity experiments as well as by taking into account the diaspore flight angle under the influence of an artificially-produced, regularly, and horizontally blowing air stream. The latter is a new and comparatively simple method enabling the implementation of mathematical formulas which describe the potential flight capacity of a diaspore for different wind speeds and exposition heights. Surface structures, shown by a scanning electron microscope, were consulted for the interpretation of results. Of the species considered, the best fliers are the diaspores of Asteraceae and Melica ciliata (Poaceae) characterized by a plumous pappus or a hairy lemma. The wing-like attachments of the diaspores of the other investigated Poaceae and Dipsacaceae are clearly less efficient for wind dispersal. The fall rates of the investigated species agree to a great extent with literature data. But a critical comparison of both methods employed shows that fall velocity as a measure of horizontal diaspore flight capacity is only suitable for low wind force < 2 m $\text{s}^{-1}$. With increasing wind force, the dispersal distance of a flying diaspore does not rise in a linear, but rather in an approximately quadratic manner. Thus, in nature, conditions of higher wind forces may be very important for the reachable dispersal distances of well-flying diaspores. This could be of particular significance for nature conservation concepts concerning the vulnerability of species towards isolation within fragmented landscapes.

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