Reduced germination success of temperate grassland seeds sown in dung: consequences for post-dispersal seed fate

Tanja Milotic, Maurice Hoffmann

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Endozoochory is one of the main drivers shaping temperate grassland communities by maintaining plant populations of its constituents and enabling plants to colonize new habitats. Successful endozoochorous dispersal implies that seeds not only get consumed and survive the digestive tract but are also able to develop into viable seedlings in a dung environment.
We experimentally assessed the germination probability and timing of 15 annual and perennial temperate European grassland species in cattle and horse dung and in different climatic conditions (greenhouse and outdoor conditions).
Interspecific variation in germinability and germination timing are found, while life strategy had only an effect on germination timing. We found adverse effects of both cattle and horse dung on the germination characteristics of all tested grassland species, but the effects of cattle dung were more pronounced. In comparison with the control treatment, fewer seeds emerged in dung and more time was needed to germinate. Also, germination metrics clearly differed between the artificial greenhouse and outdoor conditions, with generally a lower germinability in outdoor conditions.
According to our results, a large cost seems to be associated with endozoochorous dispersal in this stage of the life cycle, as seed dispersal effectiveness strongly depends on the quality of the deposition site with a lowered survival and germination probability when seeds are deposited in dung.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Biology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1038-1047
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Thematic list

  • Grasslands

Free keywords

  • dispersal success
  • endozoochory
  • germination
  • grassland species
  • seed dispersal


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    Noriega, J., Hortal, J., deCastro-Arrazola, I., Alves-Martins, F., Ortega, J. C. G., Bini, L. M., Andrew, N. R., Arellano, L., Beynon, S., Davis, A. L. V., Favila, M. E., Floate, K. D., Horgan, F. G., Menendez, R., Milotic, T., Nervo, B., Palestrini, C., Rolando, A., Scholtz, C. H., Senyüz, Y. & 47 others, Wassmer, T., Adam, R., de O. Araújo, C., Barragan-Ramírez, J. L., Boros, G., Camero-Rubio, E., Cruz, M., Cuesta, E., Damborsky, M. P., Deschodt, C. M., Dharma Rajan, P., D'hondt, B., Rojas, A. D., Dindar, K., Escobar, F., Espinoza, V. R., Ferrer-Paris, J. R., Rojas, P. E. G., Hemmings, Z., Hernández, B., Hill, S. J., Hoffmann, M., Jay-Robert, P., Lewis, K., Lewis, M., Lozano, C., Marín-Armijos, D., de Farias, P. M., Murcia-Ordoñez, B., Karimbumkara, S. N., Navarrete-Heredia, J. L., Ortega-Echeverría, C., Pablo-Cea, J. D., Perrin, W., Pessoa, M. B., Radhakrishnan, A., Rahimi, I., Raimundo, A. T., Ramos, D. C., Rebolledo, R. E., Roggero, A., Sánchez-Mercado, A., Somay, L., Stadler, J., Tahmasebi, P., Céspedes, J. D. T. & Santos, A. M. C., 6-Dec-2023, In: NATURE COMMUNICATIONS. 14, 8070

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