Plants make seeds that can grow into new plants, but if the seeds just fall to the ground under the parent plant, they might not get enough sun, water, or nutrients from the soil.
Because plants cannot walk around and take their seeds to other places, they have developed other methods to disperse (move) their seeds.
The most common methods of seed dispersal are gravity, wind, water, animals, explosion, and fire. Seeds can be dispersed away from the parent plant individually or collectively, as well as dispersed in both space and time.
Dispersal is universally considered important for biodiversity conservation. Major advantages of seed dispersal include:
- decreasing the competition between the parent plant and the seeds (seedling dormancy)
- decreasing overcrowding to avoid competition for environment, light, space, and nutrients
- reducing the number of seeds lost due to predation.
- metapopulation of species in another location
The structure of the landscape has strong effects on the distances traveled by seeds, regardless of whether they are dispersed by abiotic factors or by animals. T
herefore, any type of disturbance, such as habitat fragmentation or habitat modification by an invasive plant species, for instance, is likely to change the patterns of seed movement, the patterns of seed recruitment, as well as the genetic structure of the plant populations.