Testing mechanistic models of seed dispersal for the invasive Rhododendron ponticum
Speaker: Catriona Stephenson ( CREEM)
Rhododendron ponticum is a serious invasive alien plant in the British Isles and is of considerable conservation and economic concern. While optimal control strategies for single individuals and small stands of R. ponticum are well described, effective regional control of the plant demands an improved understanding of its spatial dynamics, in particular its dispersal ecology. I will describe the results of two field experiments designed to quantify the dispersal pattern of R. ponticum seeds: 1. controlled release over a few seconds at known windspeeds and 2. natural release over the peak dispersal period. We then use these results to assess the potential use of two different mechanistic wind dispersal models (WINDISPER and WALD) as descriptors of seed dispersal ecology for this species.