Volume 86, Issue 6 e22242
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Coyote and porcupine spread Russian olive seeds through endozoochory

Joshua W. Campbell

Corresponding Author

Joshua W. Campbell

USDA-ARS Pest Management Research Unit, Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Sidney, MT, 59270 USA

Correspondence: Joshua W. Campbell, USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, 1500 N. Central Avenue, Sidney, MT 59270, USA.

Email: [email protected]

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Natalie M. West

Natalie M. West

USDA-ARS Pest Management Research Unit, Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Sidney, MT, 59270 USA

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First published: 11 May 2022

Abstract

Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) is an invasive tree that has spread throughout much of the western United States. The mode of seed dispersal occurs by hydrochory and possibly by birds. Seed dispersal by frugivorous mammals has not been investigated. Between 15 October and 4 November 2020, we walked through Russian olive windbreaks in western North Dakota, USA, and surveyed for mammal scat, and found 10 coyote (Canis latrans) and 54 porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) scats that contained intact Russian olive seeds. We subsequently evaluated the viability, germination frequency, and time to germination of seeds ingested by coyote and porcupine relative to un-ingested control seeds harvested from trees at sites where we collected scat. Overall, Russian olive seeds that passed through mammal intestinal tracts had similar viability and equivalent (porcupine) or higher (coyote) germination frequency compared to controls. Additionally, coyote-ingested seeds germinated earlier (time to germination was low) than controls, but porcupine-ingested seeds were similar to controls. Thus, our data supports the idea that mammals may be agents of regional Russian olive seed dispersal.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the authors upon request.