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1 October 2010 Role of Horses as Potential Vectors of Non-Native Plant Invasion: An Overview
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Abstract

Non-native plant invasions can lead to staggering ecological and economic costs. Thus, land managers are concerned about vectors of seed and propagule introduction onto public lands. Because horses are one of several potential vectors of non-native seed dispersal, we summarize and interpret existing literature and identify potential impacts of horse use on non-native plant spread in natural areas. Several studies indicate non-native seeds can germinate after digestion by horses. In addition to their ability to carry viable non-native seeds in their feces, the literature indicates horses can trample native vegetation, cause soil disturbance, and increase soil nitrogen availability in some habitats. The combination of disturbance, which is known to increase invasibility, and introduction of seeds in horse feces could promote non-native plant invasions in wildlands. However, in situ studies have not demonstrated direct causal links between horses and plant invasions. More research is required to determine where, and to what extent, establishment and spread of non-natives occurs in situ as a direct result of disturbances and seed introduction by horses. Guidelines or regulations regarding horse use already exist in some recreational areas. Where none exist, we recommend development of best management practices, such as weed education programs for equestrians, use of Certified Weed Free Feed, and placement of manure bunkers at horse camps and trailheads.

Lauren D. Quinn, Adda Quinn, Mietek Kolipinski, Bonnie Davis, Connie Berto, Mark Orcholski, and Sibdas Ghosh "Role of Horses as Potential Vectors of Non-Native Plant Invasion: An Overview," Natural Areas Journal 30(4), 408-416, (1 October 2010). https://doi.org/10.3375/043.030.0406
Published: 1 October 2010
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