Understanding the Indian mainland–island biogeography through plant dispersal mechanism

  • Swapna MahanandEmail author
  • Mukunda Dev Behera
Original Paper


The plant–disperser relationship and its key predictors in Indian tropical archipelagos are understudied. East of the Indian mainland (the Eastern coast, EC) are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (AN, about 1221 km away at the shortest distance), which exhibit a great plant diversity, with 848 unique species. West of the Indian mainland (the Western Ghats, WG) are another group of islands, the Lakshadweep Islands (LD, about 320 km away at the shortest distance), which exhibit less diversity (102 unique species) than do the AN. We compared these two mainland–island pairs (EC–AN, WG–LD), which exhibit different insular isolation conditions, to understand the plant dispersal mechanisms and their determining predictors (plant richness, geographic area, perimeter, elevation, and shortest distance). We found epizoochory (adherence to an animal surface), ornithochory (birds), and hydrochory (water) to be the dominant dispersers of both the pairs. Additionally, the plant dispersal in the WG–LD pair is predominantly driven by anemochory (wind), possibly denoting the effects of the northeasterly trade winds. The major role of biotic dispersers in the EC–AN pair may be explained as resulting from plant dispersal to more remote islands through biotic dispersers being more rapid and efficient. The plant commonality was found to be positively correlated with the plant richness, geographic area, and perimeter; whereas it was negatively correlated with the shortest distance and elevation of the selected mainland–island pairs. Both linear (R2 = 0.85) and non-linear (R2 = 0.95) regression with maximum accuracy found island plant richness, geographic area, and shortest distance to the nearest mainland pool to be the determinants in explaining plant-dispersal mechanisms. These predictors are important to maintain the habitat suitability and connectivity and thereby support more newly dispersed plants. The plant–disperser relationship (epizoochory, ornithochory, anemochory, and hydrochory) and the key predictors (plant richness, geographic area, and shortest distance) found in this study could be useful for conservation, planning, and monitoring of biodiversity.


Biotic disperser Chance dispersal Mainland–island pairs Indian tropical archipelagos Mainland–island shortest distance 



The plant species data utilized in the study was acquired from a national level project on ‘biodiversity characterization at landscape level’ is thankfully acknowledged. S. Mahanand thanks the University Grant Commission (National Eligibility Test Qualified) for providing financial assistance in form of a Senior Research Fellowship. Assistance of S. Padhee in finding the species-wise plant dispersal from various literature sources is thankfully acknowledged. Authors thankfully acknowledge R M Panda for proof reading.

Supplementary material

10531_2018_1685_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 37 kb)
10531_2018_1685_MOESM2_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 18 kb)


  1. Anonymous (2003) Biodiversity characterization at landscape level in Andaman Nicobar Islands using satellite remote sensing and geographic information system. Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun. ISBN 81-901418-4-8Google Scholar
  2. Anonymous (2011) Biodiversity characterization at landscape level in North-West India and Lakshadweep Islands using satellite remote sensing and geographic information system. Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun. ISBN 978-81-211-0774-7Google Scholar
  3. Armesto J, Rozzi R (1989) Seed dispersal syndromes in the rain forest of Chiloé: evidence for the importance of biotic dispersal in a temperate rain forest. J Biogeogr 16:219–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baeten L, Davies TJ, Verheyen K, Van Calster H, Vellend M (2015) Disentangling dispersal from phylogeny in the colonization capacity of forest understorey plants. J Ecol 103:175–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bascompte J, Jordano P, Olesen JM (2006) Asymmetric coevolutionary networks facilitate biodiversity maintenance. Science 312:431–433CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bawa KS (1995) Pollination, seed dispersal and diversification of angiosperms. Trends Ecol Evol 10:311–312CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Beal LM, Hormann V, Lumpkin R, Foltz G (2013) The response of the surface circulation of the Arabian Sea to monsoonal forcing. J Phys Oceanogr 43:2008–2022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buckley R, Knedlhans S (1986) Beachcomber biogeography: interception of dispersing propagules by islands. J Biogeogr 13(1):69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cain ML, Milligan BG, Strand AE (2000) Long-distance seed dispersal in plant populations. Am J Bot 87:1217–1227CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Carlquist S (1967) The biota of long-distance dispersal. V. Plant dispersal to Pacific Islands. Bull Torrey Bot Club 94:129–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carstensen DW, Dalsgaard B, Svenning JC, Rahbek C, Fjeldså J, Sutherland WJ, Olesen JM (2012) Biogeographical modules and island roles: a comparison of Wallacea and the West Indies. J Biogeogr 39:739–749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Champion SH, Seth SK (1968) A revised survey of the forest types of India. Manager of Publications, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  13. Chandramauli C (2011) Census of India 2011: provisional population totals paper 1 of 2011 India Series 1, Chapter 6. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, New Delhi, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  14. Coello AJ, Leo M, Arjona Y, Vargas P (2018) Are long-distance dispersal syndromes associated with the conservation status of plant species?. The Canary Islands as a case study. Mediterr Bot 39:105–110Google Scholar
  15. Connor EF, McCoy ED (1979) The statistics and biology of the species-area relationship. Am Nat 113:791–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cook LG, Crisp MD (2005) Directional asymmetry of long-distance dispersal and colonization could mislead reconstructions of biogeography. J Biogeogr 32:741–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cowie RH, Holland BS (2006) Dispersal is fundamental to biogeography and the evolution of biodiversity on oceanic islands. J Biogeogr 33:193–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crisp MD, Trewick SA, Cook LG (2011) Hypothesis testing in biogeography. Trends Ecol Evol 26:66–72CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Cruden RW (1966) Birds as agents of long-distance dispersal for disjunct plant groups of the temperate western hemisphere. Evolution 20:517–532CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. de Assis Bomfim J, Guimarães PR Jr, Peres CA, Carvalho G, Cazetta E (2018) Local extinctions of obligate frugivores and patch size reduction disrupt the structure of seed dispersal networks. Ecography. Google Scholar
  21. Dennis RL, Hardy PB, Dapporto L (2012) Nestedness in island faunas: novel insights into island biogeography through butterfly community profiles of colonization ability and migration capacity. J Biogeogr 39:1412–1426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Drezner TD, Fall PL, Stromberg JC (2001) Plant distribution and dispersal mechanisms at the Hassayampa River Preserve, Arizona, USA. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 10:205–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fattorini S (2010) The influence of geographical and ecological factors on island beta diversity patterns. J Biogeogr 37:1061–1070CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fries M (1969) Aspects of floristic changes in connection with development of cultural landscape. Oikos 12:29–34Google Scholar
  25. Furness AI, Reznick DN, Avise JC (2016) Ecological, evolutionary and human-mediated determinants of poeciliid species richness on Caribbean islands. J Biogeogr 43:1349–1359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gardiner JS (1903) The fauna and geography of the Maldive and Laccadive archipelagoesGoogle Scholar
  27. Gillespie RG, Baldwin BG, Waters JM, Fraser CI, Nikula R, Roderick GK (2012) Long-distance dispersal: a framework for hypothesis testing. Trends Ecol Evol 27:47–56CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Gove JM et al (2016) Near-island biological hotspots in barren ocean basins. Nat commun 7:10581CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Halpern D, Freilich MH, Weller RA (1998) Arabian sea surface winds and ocean transports determined from ERS-1 scatterometer. J Geophys Res 103:7799–7805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hart D, Horwitz R (1991) Habitat diversity and the species—area relationship: alternative models and tests. Habitat structure. Springer, New York, pp 47–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hewitt N, Kellman M (2002) Tree seed dispersal among forest fragments: II. Dispersal abilities and biogeographical controls. J Biogeogr 29:351–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Howe HF, Smallwood J (1982) Ecology of seed dispersal. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 13:201–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kitamura S (2011) Frugivory and seed dispersal by hornbills (Bucerotidae) in tropical forests. Acta Oecologica 37:531–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kohn D, Walsh D (1994) Plant species richness–the effect of island size and habitat diversity. J Ecol 82:367–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lester SE, Ruttenberg BI, Gaines SD, Kinlan BP (2007) The relationship between dispersal ability and geographic range size. Ecol Lett 10:745–758CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Lin X, Breslow NE (1996) Bias correction in generalized linear mixed models with multiple components of dispersion. J Am Stat Assoc 91:1007–1016CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Losos JB (1986) Island biogeography of day geckos (Phelsuma) in the Indian Ocean. Oecologia 68:338–343CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Mahanand S, Behera MD, Roy PS (2017) Plant dispersal profile of Indian tropical sub-continent on the basis of species commonality. Trop Ecol 58:357–368Google Scholar
  39. McMaster RT (2005) Factors influencing vascular plant diversity on 22 islands off the coast of eastern North America. J Biogeogr 32:475–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Montoya D, Zavala MA, Rodríguez MA, Purves DW (2008) Animal versus wind dispersal and the robustness of tree species to deforestation. Science 320:1502–1504CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Moody A (2000) Analysis of plant species diversity with respect to island characteristics on the Channel Islands, California. J Biogeogr 27:711–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Morrison LW (2002) Determinants of plant species richness on small Bahamian islands. J Biogeogr 29:931–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Muñoz J, Felicísimo ÁM, Cabezas F, Burgaz AR, Martínez I (2004) Wind as a long-distance dispersal vehicle in the Southern Hemisphere. Science 304:1144–1147CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Nelder JA, Baker RJ (2004) Generalized linear models Encyclopedia of statistical sciences. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  45. Paradis E, Baillie SR, Sutherland WJ (2002) Modeling large-scale dispersal distances. Ecol Model 151:279–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Philbrick RN, Haller JR (1977) The southern California islands. In: Barbour MG, Major J (eds) Terrestrial vegetation of California. Univ of California Press, Berkeley, pp 893–906Google Scholar
  47. Rabus B, Eineder M, Roth A, Bamler R (2003) The shuttle radar topography mission—a new class of digital elevation models acquired by spaceborne radar ISPRS. J Photogramm Remote Sens 57:241–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rajendran K, Rajendran C, Earnest A, Prasad GR, Dutta K, Ray D, Anu R (2008) Age estimates of coastal terraces in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and their tectonic implications. Tectonophysics 455:53–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Reddy CS, Debnath B, Krishna PH, Jha C (2013) Landscape level assessment of critically endangered vegetation of Lakshadweep islands using geo-spatial techniques. J Earth Syst Sci 122:271–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Regal PJ (1977) Ecology and evolution of flowering plant dominance. Science 196:622–629CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Ricklefs RE (1977) Environmental heterogeneity and plant species diversity: a hypothesis. Am Nat 111:376–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ridley HN (1930) The dispersal of plants throughout the world. L. Reeve & Company, KentGoogle Scholar
  53. Rodgers W (1985) Biogeography and protected area planning in IndiaGoogle Scholar
  54. Roy P, Kushwaha S, Murthy M, Roy A, Kushwaha D, Reddy C, Porwal M (2012) Biodiversity characterisation at landscape level: National assessment. Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun, pp 1–140Google Scholar
  55. Roy PS et al (2015) New vegetation type map of India prepared using satellite remote sensing: comparison with global vegetation maps and utilities. Int J Appl Earth Obs Geoinf 39:142–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Russell J, Clout M, McArdle B (2004) Island biogeography and the species richness of introduced mammals on New Zealand offshore islands. J Biogeogr 31:653–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Shigesada N, Kawasaki K, Takeda Y (1995) Modeling stratified diffusion in biological invasions. Am Nat 146:229–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tabarelli M, Mantovani W (1999) A regeneração de uma floresta tropical montana após corte e queima (São Paulo-Brasil). Rev Bras Biol 59:239–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tabarelli M, Peres CA (2002) Abiotic and vertebrate seed dispersal in the Brazilian Atlantic forest: implications for forest regeneration. Biol Conserv 106:165–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tol SJ, Jarvis JC, York PH, Grech A, Congdon BC, Coles RG (2017) Long distance biotic dispersal of tropical seagrass seeds by marine mega-herbivores. Sci Rep 7:4458CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  61. Tripathi P, Behera MD, Roy PS (2017) Optimized grid representation of plant species richness in India—Utility of an existing national database in integrated ecological analysis. PLoS ONE 12:e0173774CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. Vander Wall SB, Kuhn KM, Beck MJ (2005) Seed removal, seed predation, and secondary dispersal. Ecology 86:801–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Whitehead DR, Jones CE (1969) Small islands and the equilibrium theory of insular biogeography. Evolution 23:171–179CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Whittaker R (2000) Island biogeography: ecology, evolution and conservation. Wiley Online Library, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  65. Willson M (1993) Dispersal mode, seed shadows, and colonization patterns. Frugivory and seed dispersal: ecological and evolutionary aspects. Springer, New York, pp 261–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilson EO, MacArthur RH (1967) The theory of island biogeography, vol 1. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  67. Xu W, Hou Y, Hung Y, Zou Y (2013) A comparative analysis of Spearman’s rho and Kendall’s tau in normal and contaminated normal models. Signal Process 93:261–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhang Y, Hepner GF (2017) Short-term phenological predictions of vegetation abundance using multivariate adaptive regression splines in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Earth Interact 21:1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Water ResourcesIIT KharagpurKharagpurIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Oceans, Rivers, Atmosphere and Land SciencesIIT KharagpurKharagpurIndia

Personalised recommendations