As the main predator and disperser of seeds, rodents play an important role in the process of vegetation regeneration by adopting different foraging and hoarding strategies in forest ecosystems. Infrared automated detection cameras and seed-tagging methods were used to understand the effects of rodents on seeds in natural environments. We chose the dominant species Apodemus peninsulae (Korean field mouse) as the focus of this study, and seeds of the three species Pinus koraiensis, Corylus mandshurica and Quercus mongolica were released and tracked in a temperate forest in northeast China. The results showed that approximately 80% of the seeds were manipulated by A. peninsulae, 15.1% of the seeds were used as food, 20.4% of the seeds were handled after feeding, 41.3% of the seeds were handled during storage, and 23.3% of the seeds remained intact. In addition, A. peninsulae preferred Q. mongolica (85.3%) and P. koraiensis (85.6%) over C. mandshurica (59.2%). The rodents frequently hoarded seeds from every species in many small, close-range, widely dispersed, single scatter-hoarded caches around the seed station. Most caches were dispersed approximately 2–4 m from the seed station. The results indicated that A. peninsulae adopted significant discriminatory processing strategies for predation, consumption, dispersal and hoarding of the different seeds of sympatric species. Seed size, proportion of kernel mass, nutrient content, and hull thickness characteristics affected the scatter-hoarding decision processes.
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Vol. 66 • No. 4