Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Donald Young


Patterns of the expansion of woody cover into grasslands on barrier islands of the Virginia coast were investigated. Seed dispersal of the dominant shrub Morella spp., was sampled deploying seed traps (n = 82) throughout a landscape under shrub encroachment pressure on Hog Island, VA. Traps were placed underneath: fruiting Morella, non-fruiting Morella, co-occurring species (Iva frutescens and Baccharis halimifolia) and in grass land, (no shrub cover). Environmental filters that act upon dispersed seeds and subsequently determine establishment patterns were also investigated. Dispersal distribution throughout the encroachment zone was leptokurtic and dispersal among cover types suggest co-occurring shrub species facilitate dispersal by functioning as bird perches. Interaction of biotic and abiotic factors mediate a complex process of establishment by influencing dispersal, germination and seedling survival to ultimately determine distribution patterns of woody plants in coastal environments.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014

Included in

Biology Commons