Dispersal Disruption Alters Plant Spatial Patterns and Decreases Plant Survivorship

Noelle Beckman
Mathematical Biosciences Institute, The Ohio State University

(March 27, 2014 10:20 AM - 11:15 AM)

Dispersal Disruption Alters Plant Spatial Patterns and Decreases Plant Survivorship

Abstract

Extirpation of vertebrates by human activity results in "empty forests", with disrupted ecological processes, including seed dispersal of plants. Although seed dispersal is typically modeled as monotonically decreasing with distance from the tree, vertebrates disperse seeds in clumps to preferred areas. These seeds must survive the attack of insect seed predators in order to germinate, and clumped seed deposition can greatly alter the number and spatial distribution of germinating plants. I will show how the interaction between seed dispersal by vertebrates and patterns of plant mortality due to insect seed predators shapes the spatial pattern of seed survivorship, and use individual-based models to examine how dispersal disruption modifies these patterns. This basic understanding will help us predict the future of plant communities faced by anthropogenic pressures that include the hunting of seed dispersers.