Empirical Evidence of Long-Distance Dispersal in Miscanthus sinensis and Miscanthus X giganteus

Quinn, Lauren D.; Matlaga, David P.; Ryan Stewart, J.; Davis, Adam S.
January 2011
Invasive Plant Science & Management;Jan-Mar2011, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p142
Academic Journal
Many perennial bioenergy grasses have the potential to escape cultivation and invade natural areas. We quantify dispersal, a key component in invasion, for two bioenergy candidates:Miscanthus sinensis and M × giganteus. For each species, approximately 1 × 16 caryopses dispersed anemochorously from a point source into traps placed in annuli near the source (0.5 to 5 m; 1.6 to 16.4 ft) and in arcs (10 to 400 m) in the prevailing wind direction. For both species, most caryopses (95% for M. sinensis and 77% for M × giganteus) were captured within 50 m of the source, but a small percentage (0.2 to 3%) were captured at 300 m and 400 m. Using a maximum-likelihood approach, we evaluated the degree of support in our empirical dispersal data for competing functions to describe seed-dispersal kernels. Fat-tailed functions (lognormal, Weibull, and gamma (C)) fit dispersal patterns best for both species overall, but because M. sinensis dispersal distances were significantly affected by wind speed, curves were also fit separately for dispersal distances in low, moderate, and high wind events. Wind speeds shifted the M. sinensis dispersal curve from a thin-tailed exponential function at low speeds to fat-tailed lognormal functions at moderate and high wind speeds. M. sinensis caryopses traveled farther in higher wind speeds (low, 30 m; moderate, 150 m; high, 400 m). Our results demonstrate the ability of Miscanthus caryopses to travel long distances and raise important implications for potential escape and invasion of fertile Miscanthus varieties from bioenergy cultivation. Nomenclature: Eulaliagrass, Miscanthus sinensis Anderss.; giant miscanthus, Miscanthus 3 giganteus Anderss.


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