Dispersal is a critically important process in the spread of invasive plants. Although knowledge of dispersal will be crucial to preventing the spread of invasive plants, little research has been performed within this context. Many important invasive or agricultural weeds disperse their seeds via tumbling, yet only one previously published paper investigated this dispersal mechanism. Field and wind tunnel experiments were conducted to quantify and model tumbling dispersal. We developed competing models for diffuse knapweed seed dispersal from wind tunnel experiments and compared predictions to data collected from a field site in Colorado. Seeds were retained in plants that had traveled hundreds to as much as 1,039 m (3,408 ft). Although neither model accurately predicted dispersal when compared with independent field data, surprisingly, seed retention with distance was somewhat better described as a linear process than as exponential decay. Wind tunnel trials showed no evidence that the number of seeds deposited per meter depended on plant size. Thus, fecundity might be a key factor determining seed dispersal distances; plants with higher fecundity might disperse seeds over longer distances than those with fewer seeds.
Nomenclature: Diffuse knapweed, Centaurea diffusa Lam. CENDI