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Trade-offs among dispersal strategies in British plants


TRADE-OFFS are of fundamental importance in population biology. They prevent the evolution of a darwinian demon (a species that breeds fast, lives long and is both a good competitor and disperser) and result in the wide range of life histories we observe in nature1. Trade-offs are also thought to be important in ecology, driving successional change and maintaining species diversity2,3. But the demonstration of trade-offs is difficult4,5. Evolutionary theory predicts trade-offs between seed dormancy and (1) seed weight6 and (2) seed spatial dispersal6,7. Here we present simulation results predicting a third trade-off between seed dormancy and adult longevity. The existence of these trade-offs is tested, to our knowledge for the first time, using modern comparative methods8,9 and data from long-term experiments10& ndash;12. The analyses are consistent with the existence of all three trade-offs in nature.

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Rees, M. Trade-offs among dispersal strategies in British plants. Nature 366, 150–152 (1993).

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