The Wind Blows Away: Plant Seed Dispersal A Science Buddies exercise that is based on a Botanical Society of America initiative. Spreading seeds! Discover how some of the most exciting summer seeds are able to move so effectively on the breeze. Can you create a seed that disperses well in the wind? Credit: George Retseck Advertisement Key notions Biology Plants Evolution Aerodynamics Introduction Have you ever observed “helicopter” seeds flying in the air during a windy day? Or have you ever picked up a dandelion and blown on it, sending its small, fluffy seeds flying everywhere? Wind is crucial for seed dispersal, which helps plants reproduce.
In this project, you will design your own “seeds” and test their effectiveness when blown across a room by a fan. Background Seed dispersal is essential for the survival of plant species. If plants grow too closely together, they must compete for soil nutrients, water, and light. The dispersal of seeds helps plants to expand across a large region and avoid competing for the same resources.
There are a variety of methods for seed dispersion. In certain plants, the fruit contains the seeds (such as apples or oranges). Animals consume these fruits, including the seeds, and then disseminate the seeds when they defecate. Some fruits may be transported by water, such as a coconut that floats.
- Some seeds are equipped with tiny hooks that may adhere to an animal’s fuzzy coat.
- If you’ve ever gone trekking in the woods or long grass, you may have had them trapped on your clothing.
- Other seeds are disseminated by the wind, such as the “winged” seeds of a maple tree, which spin and “helicopter” through the air when they fall, and the feathery, light seeds of a dandelion, which may be carried by the wind.
The longer a seed is in the air, the further it can be carried by the wind, so assisting the plant in dispersing its children. In this activity, you will create your own “seeds” out of craft supplies. Can you build seeds that float in the air for an extended period of time? Materials Examples of numerous types of wind-dispersed seeds (Depending on your location, you may discover some of these seeds in the wild.
If you have access to the Internet, you may also conduct a Web search for maple seeds, dandelion seeds, and other wind-dispersed seeds.) Small, consistent, lightweight objects that may be used as “seeds” (For instance, you might use small paper clips or small binder clips, or you could purchase a bag of actual seeds from the grocery store, such as sunflower seeds.) Craft materials to construct seed dispersion mechanisms (These might be as basic as paper and tape, or you could use streamers, cotton balls, or even natural materials such as blades of grass.) Use scissors, tape, and glue to adhere your craft materials on your seeds.
(Use caution when handling scissors.) A huge box fan or window fan (Use with caution and supervision as needed.) Timing watch or device (optional) Measuring tape or ruler (optional) Preparation Create a clear space in which to conduct the seed-testing activity.
Place the fan across the room on a table or chair. The experiment can also be conducted outside on a windy day. Procedure Design and construct many, at least four, seed distribution systems. The activity is most effective if at least two identical dispersion mechanisms are created and tested against one another (see examples below).
You are free to utilize your creativity and come up with your own ideas, but here are a couple to get you started (using a paper clip as an example “seed”): Attach a paper clip to a small, square piece of paper, approximately the size of a Post-it Note, without altering the paper.
Attach a paper clip to another tiny piece of paper, then make parallel incisions on one side of the paper and bend them outward to create “frills.” Attach a paper clip to a cotton ball. Attach a paper clip to a cotton ball that has been stretched and fluffed by pulling on it. Cut a piece of paper into the shape of a maple seed and affix a paper clip to it.
Which mechanism(s) of seed dispersion do you believe will go the longest when put in front of the fan? Why? Start the fan. Try dropping your seeds one at a time in front of the fan while standing still. Also, try dropping a simple “seed” (such as an ordinary paper clip with no attachments) to observe the results.
How far does the fan propel the seeds? Do certain seeds require more time to reach the ground than others? Consider your results. Some of your concepts failed to function (fell to the ground without moving forward)? Did some succeed more than others? What can you do to improve your designs? Can you alter your seeds to make them travel even further? Extra: Have a buddy time how long it takes the seeds to fall to the ground using a timer.
This may be facilitated by dropping the seeds from a greater height. (Have a tall adult drop them, stand on a chair gently, or drop them from the top of the steps.) Extra: Use a tape measure to record the horizontal distance the seeds travel from where you drop them to where they land.
- Which seeds spread the most? Extra: How do the findings vary if the fan speed is altered? Observations and findings You should discover that adding light materials to the “seed” will cause it to fall more slowly and go further; however, the form of the items is also crucial.
- For instance, a paper clip fastened to crumpled paper will still fall quite quickly.
A piece of paper with “wings” (like a maple seed) or a collection of separate streamers (like a dandelion seed) will fall more slowly and be blown further by the fan. The horizontal distance traveled by a “simple” seed vs one with a dispersal mechanism may vary depending on the intensity of your fan, but you should notice a significant difference between the two.
- When you attempt to develop your best designs, you imitate the process of evolution, since the “best” seed designs in nature are the ones most likely to replicate.
- More to Explore, from Science Buddies, Botanical Society of America original project, from Scientific American, from Science Buddies.
- This event is presented in conjunction with Discover revolutionary science.
Explore our digital archive dating back to 1845, which contains more than 150 papers by Nobel Prize recipients. The Wind Blows Away: Plant Seed Dispersal
Why is seed dispersion so important?
Dispersal of Seeds and Fruits – To disperse seeds across a vast region is to disperse seeds. The seeds of certain plants scatter as seeds, whereas the seeds of other species disperse as fruits (because fruits contain seeds inside them). The seeds of the same species of plants (and trees) are transported to other locations by numerous natural forces, such as wind, water, and animals, among others.
When the seeds reach maturity, the fruit carrying the seeds or the seeds themselves fall to the ground from the parent plant. Many seeds are produced by a plant. If all the seeds generated by a plant that fall immediately beneath it germinate and thrive there, then a huge number of young plants will grow in close proximity in a limited area of soil.
A significant number of young plants growing in close proximity to one another will compete for water, minerals (from the soil), and sunshine, resulting in a deficiency of water, minerals, and sunlight. Due to a lack of water, nutrients, and sunlight, the freshly emerging plants would be unhealthy and many would perish.
- Seed distribution is advantageous to plants because it affords them the following advantages:
- I Seed dispersion minimizes overpopulation of plants in a given region.
- (ii) Seed dispersion avoids competition among plants of the same species for water, minerals, and sunshine.
- (iii) Seed dispersal aids plant growth in new locations (or new environments) for greater dissemination.
Why is seed dispersal significant for Fifth Grade?
Seed distribution helps plant species’ survival. It permits plants to flourish across a large region. Therefore avoiding plants from fighting for light, water, and soil nutrients, which occurs when plants grow closer together.
Why is seed dispersion so crucial? IT helps the plant expand into new territories. Animals can transport fruit to new locations.
What is the quick solution for seed dispersal?
E.V. Seed Dispersal and Conservation Seed dispersion is the process by which plant seeds are moved to new locations for germination and the creation of new individuals, according to Wehncke’s 2010 entry in the Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. This process is frequently mediated by animals; hence, the final fate of seeds depends on their efficacy as seed dispersers.
In turn, distributed seeds influence the population dynamics and genetic structure of plant populations, as well as the long-term sustainability of communities. Numerous studies have attempted to unravel the complicated processes that occur between the generation of a seed and the establishment of a new plant in light of these repercussions.
Given the need to forecast how populations will adapt to habitat fragmentation and climate change, as well as to the invasion and spread of alien species, it is crucial to comprehend the ecological and evolutionary repercussions of the close relationship between animal behavior and seed distribution.
The dispersion of seeds reduces overpopulation. Without dispersion, the seeds would fall close to the parent plant and would likely fail to germinate due to competition for space and resources.
Why is seed dispersion essential for children?
Why do seeds then travel? All plants produce seeds, and the sole purpose of those seeds is to produce new plants. Plants want their seeds to disperse and explore the world, not simply fall to the ground and germinate there. Seed dispersion is the act of transporting or spreading seeds to other locations.