Premise: Intraspecific variation in diaspore characteristics could affect various aspects of plant performance at the population, individual plant, and seed levels. We quantified variation in dispersal traits in a wind-dispersed annual, Geropogon hybridus (Asteraceae), focusing on continuous morphological traits of dispersive diaspores and their relationships to dispersal ability and seedling emergence. Methods: We measured the morphological traits, terminal velocity, and seedling emergence of 1140 seeds from 10 populations in two successive years. We assessed the variation in traits among three hierarchical levels of organization and between years, and quantified their effects on diaspore terminal velocity and seedling emergence. Results: Diaspore morphological traits varied substantially at the population, plant, and diaspore levels. Variables of pappus geometry, especially pappus width and pappus opening angle, were consistent between years and were found to be the best predictors of diaspore terminal velocity and seedling emergence. There was a significant negative relationship between diaspore terminal velocity and seedling emergence. Conclusions: The intraspecific variation in diaspore traits is sufficiently large to substantially allow a dispersal–dormancy trade-off of individual diaspores. Our results support the hypothesis that traits of dispersive diaspores evolve in concert to select for increased dispersal potential, and provide an avenue to predict plant offspring performance through simply measured traits.
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