In the September issue of The American Naturalist, G. G. Katul (Duke University) and colleagues introduce a mechanistic analytical model for estimating dispersal kernels of seeds and their escape probability from the canopy, using simplifications to well-established turbulent transport theories. The model parameters--wind statistics, seed release height, and seed terminal velocity--are clearly interpretable and can easily be measured independently of dispersal data, as compared to the synthetic parameters of equivalent phenomenological analytical models that necessitate dispersal data for calibration. A necessary condition for LDD, seed uplifting and escape from the canopy, along with other key attributes of the dispersal kernel, were reproduced well by the model. To meet the increasing demand for proper evaluation of ecological risk reduction by employing less subjective and more transparent methods, mathematical models should make their assumptions explicit and should realistically incorporate the key biological and physical processes underlying environmental changes.
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G. G. Katul (Duke University), A. Porporato (Duke University), R. Nathan (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), M. Siqueira (Duke University), M. B. Soons (Utrecht University), D. Poggi (Duke University), H. S. Horn (Princeton University), and S. A. Levin (Princeton University), "Mechanistic analytical models for long-distance seed dispersal by wind" 166:3 September 2005.