The Ecology and Evolution of Seed Dispersal: A Theoretical Perspective

Simon Asher Levin, Helene C. Muller-Landau, Ran Nathan, Jérôme Chave

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

613 Scopus citations


Models of seed dispersal - a key process in plant spatial dynamics -have played a fundamental role in representing dispersal patterns, investigating dispersal processes, elucidating the consequences of dispersal for populations and communities, and explaining dispersal evolution. Mechanistic models of seed dispersal have explained seed dispersion patterns expected under different conditions, and illuminated the circumstances that lead to long-distance dispersal in particular. Phenomenological models have allowed us to describe dispersal pattern and can be incorporated into models of the implications of dispersal. Perhaps most notably, population and community models have shown that not only mean dispersal distances but also the entire distribution of dispersal distances are critical to range expansion rates, recruitment patterns, genetic structure, metapopulation dynamics, and ultimately community diversity at different scales. Here, we review these developments, and provide suggestions for further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-604
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


  • Invasion speed
  • Long-distance dispersal
  • Mechanistic models
  • Population dynamics
  • Spatial ecology


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