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European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 124, Issue 1, pp 55–65 | Cite as

Dispersal of vascular plants by game in northern Germany. Part II: Red deer (Cervus elaphus)

  • Goddert von OheimbEmail author
  • Marcus Schmidt
  • Wolf-Ulrich Kriebitzsch
  • Hermann Ellenberg
Original Paper

Abstract

The endozoochorous dispersal of vascular plant species by red deer (Cervus elaphus) was investigated in three forest areas of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. The primary aim of this study was to determine of which plant species and in what numbers diaspores are dispersed by red deer, an animal with eminently large home ranges during a single day as well as over the year. A second aim was to examine the significance of endozoochory for plant species composition and diversity in forests. Special emphasis was placed on whether there are differences between the three study sites and in the course of the vegetation period. Freshly deposited faecal pellet groups were collected in the forests on five dates between May and November 2002 and viable seed content was determined by greenhouse germination (seedling emergence method). A total of 28,009 individuals representing 59 vascular plant species were detected in 220 dung samples. Red deer appears thus as an important vector for endozoochorous dispersal of plants. The number of seedlings found in the faecal pellets differs between plant species and research areas as well as in the course of the vegetation period. Dung seed content is largely dominated by one species, Urtica dioica. Grouping the species found in dung according to their habitat preference showed that mainly species that occur in forests as well as in open vegetation and non-forest species were dispersed endozoochorously, while species occurring mainly under a closed canopy were present in the excrements only in low numbers.

Keywords

Biodiversity Dispersal vector Endozoochory Forest Habitat connectivity Large wild mammals Seed dispersal 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Kerstin Sommer (Lüneburg), Eckhard Kropla (forestry office of the city of Lübeck), Jan Stäcker, Peter Ohff, Matthias Schatz (forestry office of the district Herzogtum Lauenburg) and Hans-Jürgen Kelm and Rolf Ebeling (forestry office of the district Lüchow-Dannenberg) for help in collecting dung samples and to Toby Spribille for the English language revision.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Goddert von Oheimb
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcus Schmidt
    • 2
  • Wolf-Ulrich Kriebitzsch
    • 3
  • Hermann Ellenberg
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and Environmental ChemistryUniversity of LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Hessen Forst Fiv Hann. MündenGermany
  3. 3.Federal Research Centre for Forestry and Forest ProductsInstitute for World ForestryHamburgGermany

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