Mechanistically derived dispersal kernels explain species-level patterns of recruitment and succession

Lauren L. Sullivan, Adam T. Clark, David Tilman, Allison K. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Species-level dispersal information can give mechanistic insights into how spatial processes impact plant communities. Unfortunately, field-based estimates of the dispersal abilities of multiple members of a community are often lacking for many plant systems. Here, we provide a simple method for measuring dispersal ability for large numbers of grassland plant species based on functional traits. Using this method, we estimated the dispersal ability of 50 co-occurring grassland species using the Wald Analytical Long-distance Dispersal (WALD) model. Grassland plants species are often used for developing community theory, yet species-level estimates of their dispersal abilities are comparatively rare. We use these dispersal measurements to examine the relationship between species dispersal abilities and successional dynamics using data from a 90-yr old field chronosequence. We find that our estimated dispersal measurements matched field-based establishment observations well, and estimated species colonization, competitive, and establishment abilities. We hope that this method for measuring dispersal ability of multiple species within a community, and its demonstrated ability to generate predictions for spatial ecology, will encourage more studies of the explicit role of dispersal in plant community ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2415-2420
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the Ecological Society of America


  • WALD model
  • colonization
  • competition
  • dispersal
  • establishment
  • propagule pressure
  • seed traits
  • spatial ecology
  • succession
  • terminal velocity


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanistically derived dispersal kernels explain species-level patterns of recruitment and succession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this