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Seed planting is a common method for restoring damaged landscapes. In many ecosystems, the establishment of planted seed is limited by the consumption of seed-eating animals. Seed coating technologies may hold the key to increasing restoration success by providing seeds a way to escape granivory. The seed surface can be coated with products that make seeds less desirable to seed predators. The Great Basin provides an excellent study system to observe seed-granivore interactions and test the effectiveness of seed coatings. In this region, kangaroo rats are the primary granivore and strongly affect plant establishment: We coated seeds in several products with known rodent repellant properties and tested them in two-choice feeding trials using kangaroo rats (Dipodymus sp.). Kangaroo rats strongly avoided eating coated seeds when alternative food options were present, even if the coating contained no active ingredient. This indicated that the physical barrier created by the seed coating contributed to deterrence more so than the rodent repellents in the coating. Two-choice feeding trials simulate how animals behave under conditions when food choices are plentiful, meaning that the active ingredients may play a greater role when food sources are scarce. For this reason, we conducted a 1-choice feeding trial in which kangaroo rats had access only to coated seed for a time. Under these conditions, kangaroo rats consumed some types of coated seed more than others.
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019
Society for Ecological Restoration