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Linking landscape history and dispersal traits in grassland plant communities

  • Oliver Purschke
  • Martin Sykes
  • Triin Reitalu
  • Peter Poschlod
  • Honor C Prentice
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 773-783
Publication/Series: Oecologia
Volume: 168
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Dispersal limitation and long-term persistence

are known to delay plant species’ responses to habitat

fragmentation, but it is still unclear to what extent landscape

history may explain the distribution of dispersal traits

in present-day plant communities. We used quantitative

data on long-distance seed dispersal potential by wind and

grazing cattle (epi- and endozoochory), and on persistence

(adult plant longevity and seed bank persistence) to quantify

the linkages between dispersal and persistence traits in

grassland plant communities and current and past landscape

configurations. The long-distance dispersal potential

of present-day communities was positively associated with

the amounts of grassland in the historical (1835, 1938)

landscape, and with a long continuity of grazing management—

but was not associated with the properties of the

current landscape. The study emphasises the role of history

as a determinant of the dispersal potential of present-day

grassland plant communities. The importance of long-distance

dispersal processes has declined in the increasingly

fragmented modern landscape, and long-term persistent

species are expected to play a more dominant role in

grassland communities in the future. However, even within

highly fragmented landscapes, long-distance dispersed

species may persist locally—delaying the repayment of the

extinction debt.


  • Physical Geography
  • Ecology
  • Life-history traits
  • Persistence
  • Fourth-corner
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Land-use history


  • ISSN: 1432-1939
Honor C. Prentice
E-mail: honor_c [dot] prentice [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emerita


+46 46 222 89 71

+46 73 596 83 34


Sölvegatan 37, Lund