CWT-LTER Data Set Summary

Accession: 1209 CWT Research Theme: Avian Ecology
Contributors: Robert J. Warren II, , Jason Love
Title: Nest-mediated seed dispersal study from mixed habitats in North Georgia and Western North Carolina
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).
Key Words: Anemochory, birds, Caliochory, Chasmogamy, Cleistogamy, grasses, invasive species, Microstegium vimineum, nests, Non-native species, plant ecology, seed dispersal
LTER Core Area: Population Studies
CWT Themes: Avian Ecology, Plant Ecology
Study Type: Coweeta Population and Community Ecology Study
Study Period: 15-Jan-2012 to 12-Jul-2013
Site References:
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Data Table: 1209 (Bird Nest Study Data, 442)

Access: Public (released 11-Oct-2017)

Metadata: Text (ESA FLED), Basic EML, Complete EML

Data Formats: Spreadsheet CSV Text Format, EML-described Text Format, Tab-delimited Text Report with Statistical Summary, GCE Data Toolbox Format, Standard MATLAB Variables Format

Column List:

Column Name Units Type Description (hide)
1 ident none integer identification number
2 nest_id none integer nest id
3 date mm/dd/yy floating-point date nest was collected
4 state none alphanumeric string state where nest was collected
5 county none alphanumeric string county where nest was collected
6 lat decimal degrees floating-point Latitude of nest location
7 long decimal degrees floating-point Longitude of nest location
8 distance_road m floating-point distance from nest to nearest road
9 distance_edge m floating-point distance from nest to nearest forest edge
10 nest_type none alphanumeric string nest type
11 habitat none alphanumeric string habitat type
12 substrate none alphanumeric string substrate type
13 bird_species none alphanumeric string bird species
14 bird_code none alphanumeric string bird code
15 nest_material none alphanumeric string nest type
16 plant_species none alphanumeric string plant species
17 plant_code none alphanumeric string plant code
18 group none alphanumeric string cotelydon type
19 life_history none alphanumeric string life history
20 plant_type none alphanumeric string plant type
21 origin none alphanumeric string origin of plant species
22 dispersal none alphanumeric string dispersal type
23 mating none alphanumeric string mating system
24 mivi_distance m floating-point distance from nest to the nearest Microstegium vimineum population