Seed dispersal has received much research attention. The plant canopy can intercept diaspores, but the effect of the plant canopy (the aboveground portion of a plant consisting of branches and leaves) on dispersal distance has not been explored empirically. To determine the effect of plant canopy on seed dispersal distance, a comparison of diaspores falling through open air and through plant canopy was made in a wind tunnel using three wind speeds and diaspores with various traits. Compared with diaspores falling through open air, the dispersal distance of diaspores falling through plant canopy was decreased or increased, depending on wind speed and diaspore traits. When falling through a plant canopy, dispersal distance of diaspores with thorns or those without appendages was promoted at low wind speed (2 m s−1), while that of diaspores with low wing loading (0.5 mg mm−2) and terminal velocity (2.5 m s−1) was promoted by relatively high (6 m s−1) wind speed. A plant canopy could increase seed dispersal distance, which may be due to the complicated updraft generated by canopy. The effect of maternal plants on seed dispersal regulates the distribution pattern and the species composition of the community.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 12, article no. 63.

© 2022 The Author(s)

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This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31770504, 41571270, 42007427 and 31971732).

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The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.