Dispersal is a term used for the dissemination of detached reproductive structures from parent plants to a new site. Disseminules include spores, seeds, fruits, whole inflorescences, whole plants, fragments of the parent plant, bulbs and bulbils. Fruit attributes related to a particular dispersal agent or dispersal syndromes are complex and have resulted from millions of years of evolution. In practice, dispersal is mainly local, although some species of sea coasts are well adapted for long-distance dispersal. Knowledge of the modes of plant dispersal is vital to the study of coastal dune ecology because of the clear correlation between diversity and dispersal mechanisms. From the evolutionary point of view, dispersal improves fitness of species: the progeny is able to colonize a new site and extend the range of the species. The fitness here will be defined as getting to a coastal site by using any vector for dispersal, colonization of the new site (germination, establishment and reproduction) and dispersal of the propagules of the immigrant from the new site. Dispersal confers many benefits to the populations of plant species. It reduces competition for limited space and resources in the parental location and the more widely dispersed the propagules, the greater are the chances for the offspring to colonize elsewhere. Dispersal increases the chances of survival and evolution of more fit strains of a species by occupying more diverse habitats than the parents, and speciation may eventually occur in response to new selective pressures. For species adapted to live along sea coasts, dispersal by sea is primarily directed for dissemination to another site by the sea coast. During dispersal several physiological changes may occur in the disseminules that facilitate colonization of the species at the new habitat. For example, Barbour (1972) reported that immersion of upper fruits of Cakile maritima in seawater stimulated their subsequent germination under controlled conditions. Seed coat dormancy may also be broken by abrasion of seeds in sand while being rolled along the sand surface. Considering the large number of species along coasts and on islands, only a very few species may be successfully disseminated in seawater.
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