Bird dispersal of native and non-native plants in a Northwest Indiana nature preserve
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Non-native plant species have gained much attention in recent years because they often compete with native plants and overtake landscapes. Birds act as vectors to disperse non-native seeds, which might perpetuate the spreading of non-native plant species. In this study, we tested the dispersal rates of native and non-native fruiting plant species by small perching birds at a nature preserve in Northwest Indiana. To conduct this study, we collected fecal material weekly from fecal traps set in meadow landscapes near forested areas. The material was then analyzed by counting seeds and seed numbers were compared to what was available in the landscape from fruit surveys conducted in mid-October and late November. We collected over 482 fecal samples from 16 traps from early September to mid-December. 888 seeds were collected and 98% of these seeds were identified to species. Early in the fall season (Oct), strong preference was shown for native fruiting species compared to what was available for consumption, especially for Parthenocissus quinquifolia. Late in the season (Nov), a preference was still shown for native fruits, but the preference was not as strong. This research has implications for managing the spread of invasive species.
Eberhardt, Laurie; Buller, Sylas; and Hebble, Kathleen, "Bird dispersal of native and non-native plants in a Northwest Indiana nature preserve" (2015). Fall Interdisciplinary Research Symposium. 31.
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