Plant Ecology

, Volume 216, Issue 7, pp 939–950 | Cite as

Seed dispersal of an invasive shrub, Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), by white-tailed deer in a fragmented agricultural-forest matrix

  • Peter GuidenEmail author
  • David L. Gorchov
  • Clay Nielsen
  • Eric Schauber


Ungulates are potentially important seed dispersers for many invasive plant species. While our understanding of which invasive plant species are dispersed by ungulates has improved over the last decade, the factors influencing this process remain poorly understood. To address this, we explored white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) seed consumption and dispersal of an invasive shrub (Lonicera maackii) in fragmented agricultural-forest matrices in western Ohio. In a pairwise browse preference experiment, deer browsed at similar levels on branches of L. maackii with fruits removed and fruits intact (mean ± 95 % CI 57 ± 14 and 62 ± 14 %, respectively). We found no evidence that white-tailed deer disperse L. maackii seeds along an invasion front, but 31 % of deer pellet groups collected in an invaded area contained germinable L. maackii seeds (maximum number of germinable seeds = 30). By combining hourly movement data specific to fragmented landscapes and gut retention time data, we projected that female deer disperse 91 % of ingested seeds further than 100 m from seed sources (i.e., long-distance seed dispersal), and rarely disperse seeds up to 7.9 km. We conclude that white-tailed deer can be important long-distance seed dispersal vectors of L. maackii, and that invader abundance and/or patch connectivity likely influence patterns of seed dispersal by white-tailed deer.


Deer browse Nearest neighbor Patch size Seed shadow projection 



We would like to thank Miami University, the Garden Club of America, and the Garden Club of Ohio for funding this research, Dr. Thomas Crist and Dr. Hank Stevens for their assistance with experimental design and analysis, and Patrick Garrett and Brian Hoven for assistance with data collection. We also want to thank Jack Keegan and the Boyd Greenhouse staff for providing material and care for seedlings, Dr. Ann Rypstra and Rodney Kolb for facilitating the use the Miami University Ecology Research Center, and the landowners in the Darke County study area who gave us permission to use their property in this study. T. Crist, H. Stevens, and several anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Guiden
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • David L. Gorchov
    • 3
  • Clay Nielsen
    • 4
  • Eric Schauber
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Miami UniversityOxfordUSA
  4. 4.Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Department of ForestrySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  5. 5.Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Department of Zoology, and Center for EcologySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA

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