Livestock seed dispersal (fecal seeding) is gaining recognition as a method to reintroduce desirable species to degraded rangelands. A field study was conducted to determine the influence of cattle dungpat thickness on the recruitment of Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda Presl.), bluebunch wheatgrass (Psuedoroegneria spicata [Pursh] A. Love), and ‘Hycrest’ crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum [Fisch. ex Link] Schult. × A. cristatum [L.] Gaert.) in naturally and artificially deposited dungpats. Four Holstein heifers each were fed 60 000 seeds of each species. Twenty-four hours after feeding seeds, dung was collected from 2 animals receiving each plant species and formed into uniform, artificial dungpats (2 kg in mass) with thicknesses of 1, 2, and 4 cm, and respective diameters of 40, 28, and 20 cm, and deposited on bare soil. The other 2 animals receiving each plant species were used to deposit natural dungpats, varying in mass, thickness, and diameter, on bare soil. Seedling recruitment in all dungpat types was greatest for crested wheatgrass, followed by Sandberg bluegrass and bluebunch wheatgrass. Recruitment for all species was generally greatest in 1-cm-thick artificial dungpats, followed in order by 2-cm-thick artificial dungpats, natural dungpats, and 4-cm-thick artificial dungpats. Most seedlings, regardless of species, emerged and survived in the interior region of 1- and 2-cm-thick artificial dungpats and at the periphery of 4-cm-thick artificial dungpats. Most seedlings of crested wheatgrass and Sandberg bluegrass emerged and survived in cracks and depressions in the interior region of natural dungpats, whereas more bluebunch wheatgrass seedlings emerged and survived at the periphery of natural dungpats. Results indicate that the efficacy of cattle seed dispersal is influenced by the seedling vigor of species (seeds) consumed and the thickness of dungpats in which the ingested seeds are deposited. Grass species with weak seedling vigor (Sandberg bluegrass and bluebunch wheatgrass) have lower recruitment than species with strong seedling vigor (crested wheatgrass), particularly in dung > 2 cm thick.
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Vol. 57 • No. 6