The dispersal potential of endangered plants versus non-native garden escapees.

Published online
22 Apr 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Staude, I. R.
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Amidst climate change, enhancing plant dispersal pathways is crucial for adapting ecosystems and preserving biodiversity. In our human-dominated landscapes, urban and rural green spaces, especially gardens, are promising conduits for plant dispersal. Non-native plants are known to benefit from these spaces, yet the potential benefits for at-risk native plants remain unclear. Here, I synthesized data on dispersal traits, comparing endangered native plants with non-endangered and non-native species in Germany. To make my analysis pertinent to understanding the potential role of gardens in aiding the dispersal of at-risk native plants, I further contrasted the dispersal ecology of garden-friendly endangered plants with non-native plants known to escape gardens. I analysed several traits including seed weight, terminal velocity, dispersal distance, germination rate, dispersal mode, seed structures and seedbank type. Overall, dispersal traits between native and non-native plants showed minor, but in some cases statistically significant differences. Endangered plants were more often wind-dispersed and more frequently had seed appendages conducive to a wider range of dispersal vectors. Conversely, non-native plants leaned more towards non-assisted local dispersal, heavier seeds and more persistent seed banks. Other traits were largely consistent across groups. This research shows that endangered native plants possess a dispersal ecology similar to non-native species, which frequently spread from green spaces like gardens. Thus, integrating endangered flora into our green spaces could help to promote an essential aspect of species survival: dispersal.

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