Integrating Microorganism and Macroorganism Dispersal

Modes, Techniques and Challenges with Particular Focus on Co-Dispersal

Sylvie V M Tesson*, Beth Okamura, Rachael Y. Dudaniec, Wim Vyverman, Jakob Löndahl, Clark Rushing, Alice Valentini, Andy J. Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Whatever their size and the ecosystem they live in, all organisms may disperse at some stage of their life cycle. Dispersal dynamics are to a varying extent dependent on organismal size, life history, ecological niche, survival capacities and phylogeny. Moves towards a synthesis in dispersal ecology have focused primarily on vertebrates and higher plants, yet recent studies suggest that the dispersal of microorganisms and macroorganisms has much more in common than previously assumed. The dispersal of one organism enables co-dispersal for many others, smaller in size. There is an increasing need for a more integrated approach to study dispersal within the context of organismal interactions and their environments. Such an approach is facilitated by recent developments of powerful indirect techniques that enable tracking of microorganisms and macroorganisms over multiple spatial and temporal scales. Likewise, dispersal modelling and theoretical models of the consequences of dispersal can inspire empirical studies across the entire size spectrum. Simultaneously studying the relationships between dispersal of microorganisms and macroorganisms, and accounting for dispersal through time and space, will allow us to better understand the functioning and dynamics of communities and ecosystems, and to make better predictions of future dispersal patterns, changes in biodiversity and connectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-124
Number of pages16
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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