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Seed dispersal by cattle

Vos, P.G. (2001) Seed dispersal by cattle. Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Abstract

This report discusses the endozoochorous seed dispersal by cattle (Scottish Highland cattle) in two study sites. The study sites consist of ligotrophic grassland, heathiand and former arable fields. EndozoochorOUs seed dispersal may play an important role in the development of oligotrophic grassland and heath on these former arable fields. The study sites have been divided in different area parts. In each area part plots of 20 by 20 m were created. In these plots vegetation was recorded, seed supply was determined and the number of dung pats was counted. Seed that survived the passage through the cattle was determined in the greenhouse. Also germination on field dung pats was determined. Target species form a small part of the seed supply in both study sites. Selectivity of cattle in terrain use determined the seed intake. The species dominant in seed intake could be determined by hand clipping in the grazing area. High number of dung pats was found on the mesotrophic grassland in both study sites and on the heathland in Delleburen. Cattle avoided the oligotrophic grassland in Delleburen. In Hullenzand the Molinia-stands and the heathland were avoided. Many species of heathland and oligotrophic grassland are dispersed by cattle dung. The species dispersed most are Poa trivialis, P. annua, P. pratensis, CerastiumfontaflUm and Juncus species. In the field less seedlings germinated than in the greenhouse. A number of target species germinated on field dung pats. Most species appearing on a field dung pat were locally new. Sterilising by heating of cattle dung killed almost all seeds but also altered the structure of the dung. Sterilised dung pats were used to examine the amount of seeds blown in by the wind. With sterilised dung pats it was shown that Rumex acetosella was blown in. EndozoochorouS dispersal by cattle is of little importance for the dispersal of plant species of heathland and oligotrophic grassland communities. It is discussed that germination conditions are very important in determining the importance of endozoochorous dispersal for establishment.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:31
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:31
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/9206

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