Seed dispersal in Erythronium grandiflorum (Liliaceae)

G. D. Weiblen, J. D. Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Primary and secondary seed dispersal was investigated for the glacier lily Erythronium grandiflorum in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. These heavy seeds have no obvious adaptations for biotic or abiotic dispersal, but can be thrown short distances when the dehiscent fruits are shaken by wind. We used sticky traps to measure primary transport of seeds up to 1 m away from individual plants. A seed cafeteria experiment examined the role of ants and rodents in secondary seed transport. Primary dispersal by wind was positively skewed and median transport distances were influenced by variation in plant height. Secondary dispersal was negligible compared to Viola nuttallii, an elaiosome-bearing species. Thus, seed dispersal was highly restricted in E. grandiflorum, and a 1 m radius encompassed the modal section of the seed dispersal curve. The seed dispersal component of gene flow was quantified and combined with previous measurements of pollen flow to yield a more complete estimate of Wright's neighborhood size, Ne, for E. grandiflorum. The lack of a special seed dispersal mechanism in E. grandiflorum is discussed in terms of a source-sink model for seedling establishment with respect to distance from the parental plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-219
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1995


  • Gene flow
  • Neighborhood size
  • Seed dispersal
  • Seed predation


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