Dispersal limitation inferred from an experimental translocation of Lomatium (Apiaceae) species outside their geographic ranges


  • Travis D. Marsico,

  • Jessica J. Hellmann

T. D. Marsico and J. J. Hellmann (hellmann.3@nd.edu), 107 Galvin Life Sciences, Dept of Biological Sciences, Univ. of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. Present address for TDM: Dept of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State Univ., Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA.


Determining limitations on poleward range expansion is important for predicting how climate change will alter the distribution of species. For most species, it is not known what factors set their distributional limits and the role dispersal limitation might play if range-limiting factors were altered. We conducted a transplant study of three related and co-occurring Lomatium species at their northern range limits to test competing hypotheses of range limitation. We added seeds to experimental plots inside and outside the species’ geographic range (a regional treatment) in a replicated design with vegetation intact and vegetation reduced (a disturbance treatment) and with herbivore access and herbivore exclusion (an herbivory treatment). Germination and reemergence were measured through two growing seasons, along with community-level variables. A fully-crossed linear mixed model revealed that Lomatium survivorship outside the current range was as good or better than survivorship within the range, at least when the vegetative community remained intact. This suggests that the species are dispersal limited. Germination often was improved in the presence of an intact vegetative community, but this potentially facilitative effect was absent in second-year reemergence. Plots exposed to herbivory had slightly, but significantly, reduced germination, though reemergence did not differ between herbivore treatments. Lomatium dissectum, a rare species, had significantly lower survivorship than its congeners, suggesting that range shifts in rare taxa may be particularly difficult. Seed additions beyond species’ range limits may be a strategy for overcoming dispersal limitation and assisting species in poleward migrations.