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Seed Dispersal

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Date Submitted:
12/15/2011 07:49 AM
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Benefits of seed dispersal
Seed dispersal is likely to have several benefits for plant species. First, seed survival is often higher away from the parent plant. This higher survival may result from the actions of density-dependent seed and seedling predators and pathogens, which often target the high concentrations of seeds beneath adults.[1] Competition with adult plants may also be lower when seeds are transported away from their parent.
Seed dispersal also allows plants to reach specific habitats that are favorable for survival, a hypothesis known as directed dispersal. For example, Ocotea endresiana (Lauraceae) is a tree species from Latin America which is dispersed by several species of birds, including the three-wattled bellbird. Male bellbirds perch on dead trees in order to attract mates, and often defecate seeds beneath these perches where the seeds have a high chance of survival because of high light conditions and escape from fungal pathogens.[2] In the case of fleshy-fruited plants, seed-dispersal in animal guts (endozoochory) often enhances the amount, the speed, and the asynchrony of germination, which can have important plant benefits .[3]
Seeds dispersed by ants (myrmecochory) are not only dispersed to short distances but are also buried underground by the ants. These seeds can thus avoid adverse environmental effects such as fire or drought, reach nutrient-rich microsites and survive longer than other seeds.[4] These features are peculiar to myrmecochory, which may thus provide additional benefits not present in other dispersal modes.
Finally, at another scale, seed dispersal may allow plants to colonize vacant habitats and even new geographic regions.[5]
[edit] Types of dispersal
[edit] Gravity
Gravity is a simple means of achieving seed dispersal. The effect of gravity on heavier fruits causes them to fall from the plant when ripe. Fruits exhibiting this type of dispersal include apples, coconuts and passionfruit and those with harder...
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