Nest-mediated seed dispersalAuthor(s): Robert J. Warren; Jason P. Love; Mark A. Bradford
Source: Plant Ecology
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
View PDF (431.0 KB)
Many plant seeds travel on the wind and through animal ingestion or adhesion; however, an overlooked dispersal mode may lurk within those dispersal modes. Viable seeds may remain attached or embedded within materials birds gather for nest building. Our objective was to determine if birds inadvertently transport seeds when they forage for plant materials to build, insulate, and line nests. We also hypothesized that nest-mediated dispersal might be particularly useful for plants that use mating systems with self-fertilized seeds embedded in their stems. We gathered bird nests in temperate forests and fields in eastern North America and germinated the plant material. We also employed experimental nest boxes and performed nest dissections to rule out airborne and fecal contamination. We found that birds collect plant stem material and mud for nest construction and inadvertently transport the seeds contained within. Experimental nest boxes indicated that bird nests were not passive recipients of seeds (e.g., carried on wind), but arrived in the materials used to construct nests. We germinated 144 plant species from the nests of 23 bird species. A large proportion of the nest germinants were graminoids containing self-fertilized seeds inside stems—suggesting that nest dispersal may be an adaptive benefit of closed mating systems. Avian nest building appears as a dispersal pathway for hundreds of plant species, including many non-native species, at distances of at least 100–200 m. We propose a new plant dispersal guild to describe this phenomenon, caliochory (calio = Greek for nest).
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationWarren, Robert J.; Love, Jason P.; Bradford, Mark A. 2017.Nest-mediated seed dispersal. Plant Ecology. 218(10): 1213-1220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-017-0763-5.
KeywordsAnemochory, birds, Chasmogamy, Cleistogamy, Caliochory, Non-native speces
- Genetic impoverishment and cross-incompatibility in remnant genotypes of Ziziphus celata (Rhamnaceae), a rare shrub endemic to the Lake Wales Ridge, Florida
- Germination and Seed Bank Studies of Macbridea alba (Lamiaceae), a Federally Theatened Plant
- Cavity-nesting bird use of nest boxes in vineyards of central-coast California
XML: View XML