The key difference between zoochory and anemochory is that zoochory is the dispersal of seeds, spores, and fruits by animals while anemochory is the dispersal of seeds, spores, and fruits by the wind.
Seeds and spores disperse from one place to another, germinate and grow, giving rise to a new plant or organism. Seed dispersal occurs via several abiotic and biotic agents. Wind, gravity and water are several abiotic agents while animals, especially insects and birds, are biotic agents that aid in seed and spore dispersal. Based on the mode of dispersal, there are several types of seed dispersal as anemochory, barochory, hydrochory and zoochory, etc. Zoochory is the dispersal of seeds, spores, or fruit by animals, while anemochory is the dispersal of seeds, spores, or fruit by the wind.
What is Zoochory?
Fleshy fruits and nuts are attracted by animals. Zoochory is the dispersal of seeds by animals such as insects, birds and mammals, etc. Zoochory can be further divided into three categories as endozoochory, synzoochory and epizoochory. In endozoochory, seed dispersal takes place when animals ingest and defecate seeds. Endozoochory depends on the palatability of fruits by organisms.
In synzoochory, seed dispersal takes place by mouthparts of animals. Animals intentionally carry seeds by their mouthparts. The seeds dispersed by mode of synzoochory should possess hard skins to protect seeds from the damage of mouthparts. Ants and birds mainly participate in synzoochory. In epizoochory, seed dispersal takes place accidentally by animals. Seeds normally have burrs or spines in order to disperse by epizoochory. Therefore, seeds are accidentally carried on the outside of the animal in epizoochory. The seed dispersal by animals moves seeds at greater distances from the parent plant compared to other mechanisms.
What is Anemochory?
Anemochory is the dispersal of seeds, fruits and spores by the wind. Most seeds have wings, hairs or plumes in order to increase the distance of dispersal. Moreover, seeds are light weighted in order to be blown away by the wind. They are generally brown or dull coloured seeds. Wing structures mature in dry seasons. Seeds that disperse by wind have high air resistance and a slow rate of fall.
Anemochory is commonly found in open habitats, canopy trees and dry season deciduous forests. Anemochory is a popular strategy of North American cottonwoods (Populus spp.), and their cotton-like hairs are dispersed long distances by wind. Grasslands are often windswept. Hence, most grasses use anemochory to disperse their seeds. The distance of dispersal is low in comparison to zoochory.
What are the Similarities Between Zoochory and Anemochory?
- Zoochory and anemochory are two modes of seed, fruits and spore dispersal.
- Both mechanisms help to transport seeds away from parental organisms.
What is the Difference Between Zoochory and Anemochory?
Zoochory is the animal mediated dispersal of seeds, spores, and fruits while anemochory is the wind mediated dispersal of seeds, spores and fruits. So, this is the key difference between zoochory and anemochory. Fleshy fruits and nuts are dispersed mainly by zoochory while small very light seeds with wings and hairs are dispersing by anemochory. Moreover, animals carry seeds at greater distances from the parent plant compared to wind.
Below infographic lists more differences between zoochory and anemochory in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Zoochory vs Anemochory
Dispersal of seeds (diasporas) by animals and wind are called zoochory and anemochory respectively. Zoochory mostly occurs in fleshy fruits and nuts. Anemochory occurs in very small and light seeds which have wings, hairs or plumes. Seeds disperse very long distances by animals than wind. Thus, this summarizes the difference between zoochory and anemochory.
1. Iluz D. (2010) Zoochory: The Dispersal Of Plants By Animals. In: Dubinsky Z., Seckbach J. (eds) All Flesh Is Grass. Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology, vol 16. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9316-5_9
2. “Fruit & Seed Dispersal.” Digital Atlas of Ancient Life, Available here.
1. “Green Imperial Pigeon Zizyphus DSCN7402” By Rohitjahnavi – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Cirsium arvense – pappus (aka)” By André Karwath aka Aka – Own work (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia