Ecological correlates of endozoochory by herbivores


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1. Many plant species germinate from herbivore dung. However, there has been little assessment of how widespread this dispersal mechanism is.

2. A survey of the germinable seed in rabbit and sheep dung from 10 sites in the UK was used to identify the characteristics of species dispersed internally by animals.

3. A wide range of species germinated; the commonest species being ‘weeds’ of grazed communities.

4. Species that did germinate were characterized by small seed size and the capability of forming a persistent seedbank.

5. A substantial quantity and range of seeds are dispersed by herbivores in grazed ecosystems, and this could have a significant effect on the dynamics and species richness of these systems.