American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is an uncommon perennial understory herb found in eastern deciduous forest. The species is harvested for the international medicinal plant trade. While previous research has inferred that seed dispersal is limited, the production of bright red, fleshy berries suggests long-distance dispersal may be facilitated by songbirds. The objective of this study was to determine how songbirds interacted with ginseng and whether they dispersed or predated ginseng seeds. We used infrared, motion-activated cameras to observe animal—ginseng interactions in the field. To determine the disperser potential of songbirds observed visiting ginseng in the field, we conducted a captive feeding study at the Tennessee Aquarium. Thrushes removed berries from ginseng infructescences more frequently, compared to other potential dispersers, and regurgitated viable seeds 5–37 minutes after ingestion in feeding trials. By dispersing ginseng seeds, thrushes provide a mechanism for ginseng to improve its probability of persistence in the face of 3 primary threats to populations: deer browse, harvest, and climate change.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 21 • No. 1