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ARS Home » Plains Area » Woodward, Oklahoma » Rangeland and Pasture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #319411

Research Project: Sustaining Southern Plains Landscapes through Plant Genetics and Sound Forage-Livestock Production Systems

Location: Rangeland and Pasture Research

Title: Apparent seed digestibility and germination of seeds after passage through the digestive system of northern bobwhite

Author
item Springer, Timothy
item Thacker, Eric - Utah State University

Submitted to: Southwestern Naturalist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/26/2017
Publication Date: 9/1/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5883114
Citation: Springer, T.L., Thacker, E.T. 2017. Apparent seed digestibility and germination of seeds after passage through the digestive system of northern bobwhite. Southwestern Naturalist. 62(3):193-199.

Interpretive Summary: Scientist at the Southern Plains Range Research Station, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Woodward, Oklahoma, studied the apparent seed digestibility and germination of seed after passage through the digestive system of northern bobwhite quail. Northern bobwhite quail diets vary from one location to another based on what plant species are present on the landscape. Seeds of 12 of 45 species offered to bobwhite quail were found to pass through the digestive system intact. In general, post-digestion seeds had lower germination compared with pre-digestion seeds. Viable seeds found in feces are likely disseminated by quail onto the landscape. Plant species that have been lost from overgrazing or the application of herbicides might be reintroduced onto landscapes through dissemination by bobwhite quail via food plots and/or seeding stations if the seeds are deposited onto a suitable germination sites.

Technical Abstract: Limited information is available regarding the digestibility or germination of seed after the passage through the digestive system of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus), especially of plants associated with the sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia)-mixed prairie community. Thus, our objectives were to determine the apparent digestibility of seeds of 45 plant species associated with the sand sagebrush-mixed prairie community and the germination of seeds before and after passage through the digestion system of bobwhites. Seeds of 12 of 45 species fed to bobwhites were found to pass through the digestive system intact. The apparent seed digestion pattern of the 12 plant species with incomplete digestion of seeds was legumes>forbs>grasses>shrubs. At the end of a 7-d germination period, the digestion of seeds by bobwhites reduced seed germination of alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and western yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis), but increased the germination of white prairie clover (Dalea candida) seeds (P = 0.05). But by the end of a 21-d germination period, the germination percentage of pre-digestion seeds of white prairie clover exceeded that of post-digestion seeds (P < 0.05). Averaged across species, the 21-d seed germination of post-digestion seeds was lower than pre-digestion seeds (P < 0.05). Viable seeds found in feces are likely disseminated by quail onto the landscape. Plant species that have been lost from overgrazing or the application of herbicides might be reintroduced onto landscapes through dissemination by bobwhites via food plots and/or feeding stations if the seeds are deposited onto a suitable germination substrate with suitable seed germination conditions.