Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 35–44 | Cite as

Can long-distance dispersal shape the local and regional species pool?

  • Martin Zobel
  • Merit Otsus
  • Kai Rünk
  • Jaan Liira


Long-distance dispersal events are irregular and their role in shaping plant diversity is often discussed and modeled but rarely studied experimentally. We mimicked long-distance dispersal experimentally by sowing eleven exotic and fourteen native species into a calcareous grassland community in Estonia. Exotic species were randomly chosen from the collection of 500 herbaceous species in the Botanical Garden of the Tartu University. All exotic species were able to complete their life-cycles under the climatic and edaphic conditions in the garden. Native species originated from open dry calcareous habitats in the surroundings of the study site, but did not occur in the experimental grassland. Seven exotic species and seven native species established during the first year. In the third year, there were still three exotic species with five premature individuals, and three sown native species with sixteen individuals in the plots. These results show that long-distance dispersal both within and between regions may have an impact on species composition in target plant communities. If relatively the best established exotic speciesPhyteuma scheuchzeri would be classified as casual, one may conclude that transition among introduction and casual stages corresponds to ten’ rule. The species richness of seedlings, taking both local and sown species into account, was higher in plots with higher native established plant species richness.


Exotic species Long-distance dispersal Seedling establishment Species richness Sowing experiment 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Zobel
    • 1
  • Merit Otsus
    • 1
  • Kai Rünk
    • 1
  • Jaan Liira
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Botany and EcologyUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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