Effects of Hiking Trails on the Percentage of Dicot Plant Species with Animal-Mediated Seed Dispersal Methods

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Laurie Eberhardt


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-27-2023


While hiking trails can disrupt the environment they are in, they can also increase plant diversity and allow animals to more easily pass through the location. All seeds require a method for dispersal, and for many, animals are the vector for their spread, either through endozoochory, epizoochory, dyszoochory, or myrmecochory. It has been suggested that anthropomorphic trails increase the presence of certain animal species, leading to more seed dispersal and diversity due to zoochory. This would suggest that the plants located closer to trails would be more likely to have animal-mediated seed dispersal as a primary mechanism. This study aims to answer whether hiking trails affect the percentage of dicot plants with an animal mediated seed method. This study sampled twelve sites, both close to (1m) and far away from (5m) on a wooded trail in Northwest Indiana. The plants within each sample were identified and their seed dispersal method was determined. Results showed that there was no significant difference in the percentage of plants with an animal-mediated seed dispersal method close to and far from trails. These results indicate that trails may have less of an impact on plant species than currently suspected, but could also be due to the presence of birds and the maintenance of the trails

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Sophia Panfil is a senior Biology major minoring in neuroscience, chemistry and dance. She has previously been involved in undergraduate research studying the effects of Rbfox proteins in the neuronal development of zebrafish, and is currently involved with research studying the effect of plastic on the predation on bird nests. She is also on the executive board for the Biology Club. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school to further her education.

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