Trade-offs between dispersal and competitive ability: a comparative study of wind-dispersed Asteraceae forbs
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An underlying assumption in many models of coexistence and species response to fragmentation is the trade-off between dispersal and competitive abilities among species. Despite a well-founded theoretical ground for this assumption, the mechanism itself has not been as thoroughly explored. Empirical studies of the dispersal/competition trade-off have so far mainly concerned the dispersal distance of single offspring, whereas most models where the trade-off is assumed concern dispersal rate, i.e. the number of offspring that is dispersed outside a local patch per time unit. When species differ in fecundity this should also affect the dispersal rate. We therefore investigated different aspects of dispersal ability and competitive ability in the recruitment phase for 15 wind-dispersed Asteraceae species. A trade-off was found between dispersal ability at the offspring level, i.e. distance travelled by single seeds, and competitive ability in the recruitment phase, but no trade-off was found between dispersal ability at the brood level, i.e. the dispersal ability of single seeds in combination with fecundity, and competitive ability in the recruitment phase. The results were supported both by cross-species analysis and analyses by phylogenetically independent contrast. If this is a general pattern then it is troublesome for models making the assumption that there is a trade-off between dispersal rate and competitive ability.
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