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Wind as a Long-Distance Dispersal Vehicle in the Southern Hemisphere

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Science  21 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5674, pp. 1144-1147
DOI: 10.1126/science.1095210

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Abstract

Anisotropic (direction-dependent) long-distance dispersal (LDD) by wind has been invoked to explain the strong floristic affinities shared among landmasses in the Southern Hemisphere. Its contribution has not yet been systematically tested because of the previous lack of global data on winds. We used global winds coverage from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration SeaWinds scatterometer to test whether floristic similarities of Southern Hemisphere moss, liverwort, lichen, and pteridophyte floras conform better with (i) the anisotropic LDD hypothesis, which predicts that connection by “wind highways” increases floristic similarities, or (ii) a direction-independent LDD hypothesis, which predicts that floristic similarities among sites increase with geographic proximity. We found a stronger correlation of floristic similarities with wind connectivity than with geographic proximities, which supports the idea that wind is a dispersal vehicle for many organisms in the Southern Hemisphere.

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