“Step by step”: high frequency short-distance epizoochorous dispersal of aquatic macrophytes

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Coughlan, Neil E.
Kelly, Thomas C.
Jansen, Marcel A. K.
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Springer International Publishing
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Aquatic macrophytes can successfully colonise and re-colonise areas separated by space and time. The mechanisms underlying such “mobility” are not well understood, but it has often been hypothesised that epizoochory (external dispersal) plays an important role. Yet, there is only limited, and mostly anecdotal, evidence concerning successful epizoochorous dispersal of aquatic macrophytes, particularly in the case of short-distance dispersal. Here we examine in situ and ex situ dispersal of aquatic macrophytes, including three invasive alien species. A high frequency of Lemna minor Linnaeus dispersal was observed in situ, and this was linked to bird-mediated epizoochory. We concluded that wind had no effect on dispersal. Similarly, in an ex situ examination Lemna minuta Kunth and Azolla filiculoides Lamarck, were found to be dispersed with a high frequency by mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). No dispersal was measured for Elodea nuttalli (Planchon) H. St. John. It is concluded that short-distance or “stepping-stone” dispersal via bird-mediated epizoochory can occur with high frequencies, and therefore can play an important role in facilitating colonisation, range expansion and biological invasion of macrophytes.
Connectivity , Mobile link , Bird-mediated , Stepping-stone dispersal , Biological invasion , Invasive aquatic plants
Coughlan, N. E., Kelly, T. C. and Jansen, M. A. K. (2016) '“Step by step”: high frequency short-distance epizoochorous dispersal of aquatic macrophytes', Biological Invasions, 19(2), pp. 625-634. doi:10.1007/s10530-016-1293-0
© 2016, Springer International Publishing. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Biological Invasions. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1293-0