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Estimating wind dispersal potential in Ailanthus altissima: the need to consider the three-dimensional structure of samaras

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2017-04-01
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Taylor & Francis
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Plant dispersal is a very important ecological phenomenon, as it can enable species to move away from the parent plant. This contributes to shaping communities, determining patterns of distribution, landscape configuration, plant invasions and evolutionary processes. Measuring dispersal distance directly is difficult and thus, diaspore morphology can be used to make estimates. Previous research on the topic often resorts to analysing the diaspore's morphology as if it was a bi-dimensional structure; when in many cases, diaspores have three-dimensional qualities. In this study, we show how estimates of wind dispersal potential of Ailanthus altissima can be considerably improved using morphological variables that succeed in describing the three-dimensional nature of samaras. We suggest that this reasoning could be extensively applied to research involving not only other species, but also multi-specific scenarios with a wide range of diaspore morphologies.
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Ailanthus altissima, Diaspore morphology, Samara, Three-dimensional structure, Wind dispersal potential
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Plant Biosystems, (2017), 151(2), pp.: 316–322.