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Dispersal limitation and variation in habitat suitability may determine an association of American mistletoe [Phoradendron leucarpum (Raf.) Reveal & M.C. Johnst. (Viscaceae)] with forested wetlands in Virginia and North Carolina, United States. Here, we first tested the alternative hypothesis that variation in host availability drives this habitat relationship. We used a generalized linear model to show a positive effect of forested wetland habitat on American mistletoe occurrence after accounting for both variation in host availability and differences among regions in host use. We then used seed sowing experiments to quantify how light availability and flood regime determine the viability of American mistletoe, allowing us to evaluate the potential for establishment limitation to determine this habitat relationship. Light availability predicted establishment rates but % canopy openness did not predict seed germination rates. Thus, variation in the ability for American mistletoe to establish across forested habitat types with different local light availabilities is a potentially important mechanism in determining its distribution.


© 2023 The Authors.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

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Article states: "The data that provided results for this study are available from the corresponding author upon request."

Corresponding author: Nicholas P. Flanders (ORCID: 0000-0003-1934-7779)

Original Publication Citation

Flanders, N. P., Randle, C. P., Walters, E. L., & Musselman, L. J. (2023) Variation in establishment success for American mistletoe [Phoradendron leucarpum (Raf.) Reveal & M.C. Johnst. (Viscaceae)] appears most likely to predict its distribution in Virginia and North Carolina, United States. Botany. Advance online publication.


0000-0003-1934-7779 (Flanders), 0000-0002-9414-5758 (Walters), 0000-0003-3696-0436 (Musselman)