Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/2/2002
Publication Date: 2/3/2003
Citation: WALD, E.J., KRONBERG, S.L., LARSON, G.E., JOHNSON, W.C. LEAFY SPURGE (EUPHORBIA ESULA L.) SEED DISPERSAL BY WILDLIFE. MEETING ABSTRACT. 2003. Abstract No. 306. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Anecdotal information suggests that wildlife may disperse leafy spurge seed in their feces, but there is little scientific evidence for this. Areas within Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) in western ND are heavily infested with leafy spurge. New infestations are appearing that are far from the main infestations. This study investigates deer (Odocoileus virginianus & O. hemionus), sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus), and wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) as potential leafy spurge seed dispersers. Study areas within TRNP were selected for overlap between leafy spurge and wildlife use. An area in Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge (MLNWR) in northeast Montana was also selected for deer. Feces of the selected animals were collected and analyzed for leafy spurge seed. Fecal samples of grouse (n=201) contained one leaf spurge seed; that of turkeys (n=206) contained no leafy spurge seeds. Feces from deer at TRNP (n=134) contained two spurge seeds, and feces from deer at MLNWR (n=42) contained four leafy spurge seeds. Only one seed germinated from a MLNWR deer sample. We conducted pen trials with deer, grouse and turkeys to determine their potential for passing viable leafy spurge seed. We fed 3000 leafy spurge seeds to deer and turkeys and 1500 seeds to grouse. Fecal samples were collected daily for five days and analyzed for seeds. Turkeys (n=4) passed nine viable seeds, while deer (n=4) passed 105 and grouse (n=4) passed 72 viable seeds. This study indicates that sharp-tailed grouse and deer may disperse small amounts of leafy spurge seed in their feces.