Dr. Kersti Riibak

Research Fellow in Macroecology 
Program Director of Biology and Ecology curriculas (BSc+MSc)

In my doctoral thesis, I estimated the extent to which poor dispersal ability of plants (low seed abundance and short dispersal distance) may cause species absences from suitable sites in Central and Northern Europe and within grassland ecosystems in the Baltic Sea Region. Additionally, I explored how the importance of dispersal limitation depends on local environmental conditions and human activities. The results showed that dark diversity species typically produced fewer seeds and dispersed shorter distances than observed species, indicating that poor dispersal abilities caused absences of many suitable species. The importance of dispersal limitation decreased with more stressful environments and with human activities. Overall, my thesis shows that species´ dispersal abilities largely determine completeness of plant communities. To increase biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, it is important to promote successful seed dispersal of native species between isolated grassland patches. This can be archived by increasing the area of grasslands and through moderate grassland management (e.g. grazing and mowing). My supervisor was professor Meelis Pärtel.