It has been argued that nonstandard mechanisms of dispersal are often responsible for long-distance dispersal in plants. For example, plant seeds that appear to be adapted for wind dispersal may occasionally be dispersed long distances by birds, or vice versa. In this paper, we explore whether existing data on dispersal distances, colonization rates, and migration rates support the idea that dispersal processes suggested by the morphology of the dispersal unit are responsible for long distance dispersal. We conclude that the relationship between morphologically defined dispersal syndrome and long-distance dispersal is poor. This relationship is poor because the relationship between the morphology of dispersal units and the multiple processes that move seeds are often complex. We argue that understanding gleaned from the often anecdotal literature on nonstandard and standard means of long distance dispersal is the foundation for both statistical and mechanistic models of long-distance dispersal. Such models hold exciting promise for the development of a quantitative ecology of long-distance dispersal.
- Island colonization
- Long-distance dispersal
- Mechanistic dispersal models
- Mixture models
- Morphological dispersal syndrome