Allison Brehm, Shawn Fraver, Melissa Ladenheim, Danielle Levesque
Previous studies have shown that scatter-hoarding small mammals increase seed germination success through the process of collecting and caching seeds throughout the forest. This study seeks to explore this further by examining how specific cache microsite preferences among these small mammals impacts the germination and growth of northern red oak (Quercus rubra). Seeds were planted in six different microsites across three forest treatments. Germination, seedling height, and herbivory were then monitored over time. We found that microsite did not have a significant effect on germination or height, however microsite did impact herbivory probability, and open microsites made seedlings more vulnerable than sapling microsites. Differences in germination and height were significant among different forest treatments, indicating that small mammal abundance within different forest structures may be important to forest success. The results of this study are important to understanding how individual small mammal cache decisions, that can be altered by personality, can be important to predicting forest composition in changing landscapes.
Link, Gabrielle, "Seed Dispersal Effectiveness in the Penobscot Experimental Forest" (2020). Honors College. 606.