Contributions of long-distance dispersal to population growth in colonising Pinus ponderosa populations

Authors

  • Mark R. Lesser,

    Corresponding authorCurrent affiliation:
    1. Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA
    • Program in Ecology, Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA
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  • Stephen T. Jackson

    1. Program in Ecology, Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. USGS Southwest Climate Science Center, Tucson, AZ, USA
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Correspondence: E-mail: mrlesser@syr.edu

Abstract

Long-distance dispersal is an integral part of plant species migration and population development. We aged and genotyped 1125 individuals in four disjunct populations of Pinus ponderosa that were initially established by long-distance dispersal in the 16th and 17th centuries. Parentage analysis was used to determine if individuals were the product of local reproductive events (two parents present), long-distance pollen dispersal (one parent present) or long-distance seed dispersal (no parents present). All individuals established in the first century at each site were the result of long-distance dispersal. Individuals reproduced at younger ages with increasing age of the overall population. These results suggest Allee effects, where populations were initially unable to expand on their own, and were dependent on long-distance dispersal to overcome a minimum-size threshold. Our results demonstrate that long-distance dispersal was not only necessary for initial colonisation but also to sustain subsequent population growth during early phases of expansion.

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