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Ellison Abstract- 2002 Ellison et al (Seed dispersal)

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Ellison, A. M., & J. N. Parker. 2002. Seed dispersal and seedling establishment of Sarracenia purpurea (Sarraceniaceae). American Journal of Botany 89: 1024-1026


Plant ecologists continue to grapple with Reid's paradox, the observation that dispersal distances of most herbs and trees are too limited to account for their recolonization of northern latitudes following glacial recession. As global climate changes and natural habitats become increasingly fragmented, understanding patterns of seed dispersal and the potential for long-distance colonization takes on new importance. We studied the dispersal and establishment of the northern pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea, which grows commonly in isolated bogs throughout Canada and eastern North America. Median dispersal distance of S. purpurea is only 5 cm, which is insufficient to explain its occurrence throughout formerly glaciated regions of North America. Establishment probability of seeds in the field is approximately 5%, and juveniles are normally found clustered around adult plants. The large-scale population genetic structure of this species can be accounted for by rare long-distance dispersal events, but its predictable occurrence in isolated habitats requires additional explanation. Reid's paradox remains an open question, and predicting long-range colonization into fragmented habitats by species with limited dispersal ability is a novel challenge.

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