The potential dispersal of Benghal dayflower seeds by mourning doves was studied in southern Georgia, U.S.A. The gut contents (both crop and gizzard) of mourning doves harvested in the autumn months were investigated to determine if mourning doves fed on Benghal dayflower and whether seeds can survive conditions in the bird gut. Research indicated that mourning doves fed selectively on Benghal dayflower with some harvested birds containing hundreds of Benghal dayflower seeds and capsules in their guts. Further, some seeds recovered remained highly viable. Germination rates in seeds taken from bird crops were similar to controls over the first 4 wk of germination and enhanced over control treatments during the latter 16 wk of a 20-wk germination study. Ultimately, seeds extracted from dove crops had 92% germination as compared to 80% for control seeds. Seeds extracted from dove gizzards had 45% germination, about half that of controls. Benghal dayflower seeds have a structurally reinforced seed coat that probably aids in survival of mechanical damage through bird intestinal tracts. Benghal dayflower seeds exposed to 1.0 M HCl treatment for 2 h had little loss in viability, successfully germinating after such treatment. When evaluating mechanisms for the eradication of Benghal dayflower from agricultural crops, consideration needs to be given to the large number of mourning doves and other bird species that visit cropland and potentially aid in its dispersal.
Nomenclature: Benghal dayflower, Commelina benghalensis L. COMBE; mourning dove, Zenaida macroura L.