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Endozoochorus seed dispersal by goats: recovery, germinability and emergence of five Mediterranean shrub species

By Manuel Delgado Pertíñez, D. Grande, Juan Manuel Mancilla Leytón and Ángel Martín Vicente


Herbivores can play an important role as seed dispersal vectors, ungulates constituting potential seed dispersal agents of Mediterranean grasses and shrubs. We evaluated the role of domestic goats as seed dispersers of five representative Mediterranean forage shrub species [Cistus albidus L., Phillyrea angustifolia L., Calicotome villosa (Poir.) Link., Rhamnus lycioides L. and Atriplex halimus L.]. Following seed ingestion by goats, total faeces were collected at 24-h intervals for five days. The total number of seeds recovered varied among species, with R. lycioides showing the minimum recovery percentage (1.3%) and C. albidus (35.8%), the maximum. Seed recovery was significantly related to seed hardness and length. In most species, the maximum amount of seeds recovered occurred 48-72 h after ingestion. The passage through the goat gut significantly depressed seed germination in C. albidus, C. villosa and A. halimus; inhibited it in R. lycioides and increased it in P. angustifolia. Seedling emergence was significantly lower in intact dung pellets than in broken-down ones, and both significantly lower than in uneaten seeds (control). The results of this study show that goats can potentially favor or inhibit seed dispersal of browsed Mediterranean shrub species. Therefore, goat grazing could be a potential management tool for expanding target shrub species populations or preventing shrub encroachment in undesired areas

Topics: endozoochory, shrubland, seed hardness, seed recovery
Publisher: 'Instituto Nacional de Investigacion y Tecnologia Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA)'
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.5424/sjar/2013112-3673
OAI identifier:

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