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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

The Fate of the Missing Spores - Patterns of Realized Dispersal beyond the Closest Vicinity of a Sporulating Moss

Lönnell, Niklas; Hylander, Kristoffer; Jonsson, Bengt Gunnar; Sundberg, Sebastian


It is well-known that many species with small diaspores can disperse far during extended temporal scales (many years). However, studies on short temporal scales usually only cover short distances (in, e.g., bryophytes up to 15 m). By using a novel experimental design, studying the realized dispersal, we extend this range by almost two orders of magnitude. We recorded establishment of the fast-growing moss Discelium nudum on introduced suitable substrates, placed around a translocated, sporulating mother colony. Around 2,000 pots with acidic clay were placed at different distances between 5 m and 600 m, in four directions, on a raised bog, with increased pot numbers with distance. The experiment was set up in April-May and the realized dispersal (number of colonized pots) was recorded in September. Close to the mother colony (up to 10 m), the mean colonization rates (ratio of colonized pots) exceeded 50%. At distances between 10 and 50 m colonization dropped sharply, but beyond 50 m the mean colonization rates stabilized and hardly changed (1-3%). The estimated density of spores causing establishments at the further distances (2-6 spores/m(2)) was realistic when compared to the estimated spore output from the central colonies. Our study supports calculations from earlier studies, limited to short distances, that a majority of the spores disperse beyond the nearest vicinity of a source. The even colonization pattern at further distances raises interesting questions about under what conditions spores are transported and deposited. However, it is clear that regular establishment is likely at the km-scale for this and many other species with similar spore output and dispersal mechanism.


Discelium nudum, clay, dispersal, distance, establishment, spore

Published in

2012, volume: 7, number: 7, article number: e41987
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Authors' information

Lönnell, Niklas
Stockholm University
Hylander, Kristoffer
Jonsson, Bengt Gunnar
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Species Information Centre
Uppsala University

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