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Converging approaches for modeling the dispersal of propagules in air and sea

Lett, Christophe, Barrier, Nicolas, Bahlali, Meissam
Ecological modelling 2020 v.415 pp. 108858
air, ecology, eggs, fish, larvae, migratory behavior, models, plants (botany), pollen, seed dispersal, seeds, spores, terminal velocity, wind
Terrestrial plants seeds, spores and pollen are often dispersed by wind. Likewise, most eggs and larvae of marine organisms are dispersed by oceanic currents. It was historically believed that the spatial scale at which dispersal occurs was orders of magnitude smaller for plants than for fish. However, recent empirical estimates of seed and larval dispersal suggest that these dispersal scales are more alike than previously thought. The modeling approaches used to simulate aerial and aquatic dispersal are also converging. Similar biophysical models are developed, in which outputs of Eulerian models simulating the main physical forcing mechanism (wind or currents) are used as inputs to Lagrangian models that include biological components (such as seed terminal velocity or larval vertical migration). These biophysical models are then used to simulate trajectories of the biological entities (seeds, larvae) in three dimensions. We reflect on these converging trends by first putting them into an historical perspective, and then by comparing the physical and biological processes represented in marine larva vs. terrestrial seed dispersal models, the data used for the models output corroboration, and the tools available to perform simulations. We conclude that this convergence offers the opportunity to bridge the gap between two scientific communities which are currently largely disconnected. More broadly, we also see our comparison across systems as a useful way to strengthen the links between aquatic and terrestrial ecology by sharing knowledge, methods, tools, and concepts.