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Dung beetles as secondary seed dispersers in a temperate grassland
D'hondt, B.; Bossuyt, B.; Hoffmann, M.; Bonte, D. (2008). Dung beetles as secondary seed dispersers in a temperate grassland. Basic appl. ecol. (Print) 9(5): 542-549. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2007.11.002
In: Basic and Applied Ecology. Urban & Fischer/Urban and Fischer: Jena. ISSN 1439-1791; e-ISSN 1618-0089, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Trefwoorden
    Agrostis; Poa L. [WoRMS]
    Terrestrisch
Author keywords
    Seed dispersal; Secondary dispersal; Diplochory; Seed burial; Agrostis; Poa

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Abstract
    The two-phase dispersal event in which dung beetles move seeds after endozoochory is often assumed to be advantageous for plant regeneration. Because seeds are expected to end up in favourable and safe germination sites, it is considered as an example of directed dispersal. However, literature so far is restricted to tropical rain forest ecosystems, while data for temperate regions are lacking. In this study, the effect of dung beetles on seedling establishment of endozoochorically dispersed seeds is evaluated for a temperate grassland ecosystem. We performed a field experiment in which cages excluded dung beetles from horse and cattle dung samples with mixed-in grass seeds. Seed germination from these samples was significantly higher than that from samples which were accessible to dung beetles. This indicates that the effect of dung beetles on short-term seedling establishment was negative, which contrasts with the patterns found for large-seeded species used in tropical studies. This is most likely attributed to the lack of roller species and the larger depth at which tunneling Geotrupes species bury seeds.

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