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Endozoochorous seed dispersal by cattle and horse in a spatially heterogeneous landscape

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articleResearchpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Ecology
Volume178
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Abstract

Seed dispersal has become an important issue in plant ecology and restoration management. In this paper we examined dung germinating seed content and seed deposition patterns of horses (Shetland and Konik breeds) and Scottish Highland cattle grazing two coastal dune nature reserves. Two times 2.5 l of fresh dung from each type of herbivore were collected during seven sessions in the main fruiting season. Dung samples were placed under greenhouse conditions after drying and cooling. Animal defecation patterns were derived from a study of herbivore activities during 6 h observation sessions 8 times a month. One hundred and seventeen plant species i.e. 27% of all species occurring in the study area, were recorded as seedlings emerging from the dung samples. The most abundantly and frequently recorded plant species were Urtica dioica, Juncus spp. and different species of Poaceae and Caryophyllaceae. In general seedling density is high (1158 seedlings/dung sample). Seedling density and species richness were further analysed in order to detect temporal variability and possible animal and site related characteristics. Dung deposition patterns reflect a non-random use of habitats and hence a non-random seed deposition among habitats. Calculated seed deposition per square meter ranged from a few (
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