Empirical evidence of long-distance dispersal in Miscanthus sinensis and Miscanthus × giganteus

Lauren D. Quinn, David P. Matlaga, J. Ryan Stewart, Adam S. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 × 106 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 (Γ)) 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-150
Number of pages9
JournalInvasive Plant Science and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofuel
  • bioenergy
  • dispersal kernel
  • fat-tailed
  • invasiveness
  • probability density function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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