Plant Ecology

, Volume 218, Issue 10, pp 1213–1220 | Cite as

Nest-mediated seed dispersal

  • Robert J. WarrenII
  • Jason P. Love
  • Mark A. Bradford
Article

Abstract

Many plant seeds travel on the wind and through animal ingestion or adhesion; however, an overlooked dispersal mode may lurk within those dispersal modes. Viable seeds may remain attached or embedded within materials birds gather for nest building. Our objective was to determine if birds inadvertently transport seeds when they forage for plant materials to build, insulate, and line nests. We also hypothesized that nest-mediated dispersal might be particularly useful for plants that use mating systems with self-fertilized seeds embedded in their stems. We gathered bird nests in temperate forests and fields in eastern North America and germinated the plant material. We also employed experimental nest boxes and performed nest dissections to rule out airborne and fecal contamination. We found that birds collect plant stem material and mud for nest construction and inadvertently transport the seeds contained within. Experimental nest boxes indicated that bird nests were not passive recipients of seeds (e.g., carried on wind), but arrived in the materials used to construct nests. We germinated 144 plant species from the nests of 23 bird species. A large proportion of the nest germinants were graminoids containing self-fertilized seeds inside stems—suggesting that nest dispersal may be an adaptive benefit of closed mating systems. Avian nest building appears as a dispersal pathway for hundreds of plant species, including many non-native species, at distances of at least 100–200 m. We propose a new plant dispersal guild to describe this phenomenon, caliochory (calio = Greek for nest).

Keywords

Anemochory Birds Chasmogamy Cleistogamy Caliochory Non-native species 

Supplementary material

11258_2017_763_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 20 kb)
11258_2017_763_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 11 kb)

References

  1. Aldrich JW, Banks RC, Cade TJ, Calders WA, Cooch FG, Emlen ST, Greenwell GA, Howell TR, Hubbard JP, Johnston DW, Johnston RF, Mewaldt LR (1975) Report of the American ornithologists; Union and ad hoc Committee on Scientific and Educational Use of Birds. The Auk 92(3, Supple.): 1A–27AGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson AH, Anderson A (1957) Life history of cactus wren. Part 1: winter and prenesting behavior. Condor 59:163–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banks RC (1979) Human related mortality of birds in the United States. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington, DC, pp 1–16Google Scholar
  4. Bullock JJ, Kenward RE, Hails RS (eds) (2002) Dispersal Ecology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Cain ML, Damman H, Muir A (1998) Seed dispersal and the Holocene migration of woodland herbs. Ecol Monogr 68:325–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheplick GP (2010) Limits to local spatial spread in a highly invasive annual grass (Microstegium vimineum). Biol Invasions 12:1759–1771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Christen DC, Matlack GR (2009) The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biol Invasions 11:453–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clobert J, Danchin E, Dhondt AA, Nichols JD (eds) (2001) Dispersal. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Collias NE, Collias EC (1984) Nest building and bird behavior. Princeton University Press, PrincetonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Culley TM, Klooster MR (2007) The cleistogamous breeding system: a review of its frequency, evolution, and ecology in angiosperms. Bot Rev 73:1–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Darwin C (1877) The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dean WRJ, Milton S, Siegfried WR (1990) Dispersal of seeds as nest material in semiarid Karoo shrubland. Ecology 71:1299–1306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dixon C (1902) Birds’ nests: an introduction to the science of caliology. Frederick A. Stokes Company, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dobrenz AK, Beetle AA (1966) Cleistogenes in Danthonia. J Range Manag 19:292–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gates JE, Gysel LW (1978) Avian nest dispersion and fledgling success in field-forest ecotones. Ecology 59:871–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gelbard JL, Belnap J (2003) Roads as conduits for exotic plant invasions in a semiarid landscape. Conserv Biol 17:420–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goodwillie C, Kalisz S, Eckert CG (2005) The evolutionary enigma of mixed mating systems in plants: occurrence, theoretical explanations, and empirical evidence. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 36:47–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Harrison HH (1998) Peterson field guide: eastern birds’ nests. Houghton Mifflin Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Higgins SI, Nathan R, Cain ML (2003) Are long-distance dispersal events in plants usually caused by nonstandard means of dispersal? Ecology 84:1945–1956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Holsinger KE (1986) Dispersal and plant mating systems: the evolution of self-fertilization in subdivided populations. Evolution 40:405–413CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Hubbell SP (2001) The unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  22. Keyel AC, Strong AM, Perlut NG, Reed JM (2013) Evaluating the roles of visual openness and edge effects on nest-site selection and reproductive success in grassland birds. Auk 130:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Levine JM, Murrell DJ (2003) The community-level consequences of seed dispersal patterns. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 34:549–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Longland WS, Clements C (1995) Use of fluorescent pigments in studies of seed caching by rodents. J Mammal 76:1260–1266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lord EM (1981) Cleistogamy: a tool for the study of floral morphogenesis, function and evolution. Bot Rev 47:421–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Miller NP, Matlack GR (2010) Population expansion in an invasive grass, Microstegium vimineum: a test of the channelled diffusion model. Div Distrib 16:816–826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Milton S, Dean WRJ, Kerley GIH, Hoffman MT, Whitford WG (1998) Dispersal of seeds as nest material by the Cactus Wren. Southwest Nat 43:449–452Google Scholar
  28. Mortensen DA, Rauschert ESJ, Nord AN, Jones BP (2009) Forest roads facilitate the spread of invasive plants. Invasive Plant Sci Manag 2:191–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nathan R, Muller-Landau HC (2000) Spatial patterns of seed dispersal, their determinants, and consequences for recruitment. Trends Ecol Evol 15:278–285CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Oakley CG, Moriuchi KS, Winn AA (2007) The maintenance of outcrossing in predominantly selfing species: ideas and evidence from cleistogamous species. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 38:437–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pannell JR (2009) On the problems of a closed marriage: celebrating Darwin 200. Biol Lett 5:332–335CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Parendes LA, Jones JA (2000) Role of light availability and dispersal in exotic plant invasion along roads and streams in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon. Conserv Biol 14:64–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pulliam HR (2000) On the relationship between niche and distribution. Ecol Lett 3:349–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. R Development Core Team (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  35. Schemske DW, Lande R (1985) The evolution of self-fertilization and inbreeding depression in plants. II. Empirical observations. Evolution 39:41–52CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Schmitt J, Ehrhardt D, Swartz D (1985) Differential dispersal of self-fertilized and outcrossed progeny in Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). Am Nat 126:570–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. SID (2008) Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Seed Information Database Version 7.1. Royal Botanic GardensGoogle Scholar
  38. Soons MB, Brochet A-L, Kleyheeg E, Green AJ (2016) Seed dispersal by dabbling ducks: an overlooked dispersal pathway for a broad spectrum of plant species. J Ecol 104:443–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sorensen AE (1986) Seed dispersal by adhesion. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 17:443–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stiles EW (1980) Patterns of fruit presentation and seed dispersal in bird-disseminated woody plants in the eastern deciduous forest. Am Nat 116:670–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Surgey J, Du Feu CR, Deeming DC (2012) Opportunistic use of wool-like artificial material as lining of tit (Paridae) nests. Condor 114:385–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Traveset A, Heleno R, Nogales M (2014) The ecology of seed dispersal. In: Gallagher RS (ed) The ecology of regeneration in plant communities. CABI Publishing, WallingfordGoogle Scholar
  43. USDA, NRCS (2016) The PLANTS database. National Plant Data Team, GreensboroGoogle Scholar
  44. Warren RJ II, Giladi I (2014) Ant-mediated seed dispersal: a few ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) benefit many plants. Myrmecol News 20:129–140Google Scholar
  45. Warren RJ II, Ursell T, Keiser AD, Bradford MA (2013) Habitat, dispersal and propagule pressure control exotic plant infilling within an invaded range. Ecosphere 4:26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Watson L, Dallwitz MJ (1992) The grass genera of the world: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval; including synonyms, morphology, anatomy, physiology, phytochemistry, cytology, classification, pathogens, world and local distribution, and references. CAB International, WallingfordGoogle Scholar
  47. Weakley AS (2015) Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU), North Carolina Botanical Garden University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologySUNY Buffalo StateBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Warnell School of Forestry and Natural ResourcesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations