The Consequences of Post-Dispersal Seed Predation for Rare, Common and Exotic Species Survival in Remnant and Restored Prairies

Principle Investigator: Dr. Lauren Sullivan

Institution and/or Affiliation: University of Missouri

Project Description:

Our overall objective is to understand the fate of seeds after they have fallen to the soil – either through the initial seeding of a restoration or from maternal plants in the aboveground community. Our initial work from 2019 at PFCA and Tucker Prairie indicates that many thousands of seeds fall to the ground through natural processes each year. However, there is still a significant mismatch between the seeds captured through our methods and the aboveground plant community that exists in these prairies (Wynne et al. in prep). One likely source of seed loss is predation by small mammals and insects (e.g. Howe & Brown 2000; Blaney & Kotanen 2001; Clark & Wilson 2003; Pufal & Klein 2013). Therefore, we will experimentally determine the role that small mammals and insects play regarding seed predation and seed death on both rare, common and exotic species at PFCA and Tucker Prairie. We hypothesize that small mammals and insects will have increased effects of seed predation on native over exotic species, as they have evolved with these seeds as a food source. We also hypothesize that rare species will be more likely to be consumed than common species, thus seed predation plays a role in their rarity.