Seed predation is an important ecological process that can affect the success of individual plants and plant populations as a whole. However, seed preferences of herbivores have received little detailed attention in comparison to seedling predation studies (Hulme, 1994). In this project I researched how rodents, specifically their seed preferences, affect the recruitment and survival of ecologically important native plants in Western Kentucky. I used traps to catch Peromyscus leucopus (white-footed mice). Once caught, each mouse was placed in a trial arena with seeds from Silphium perfoliatum (cup plant), Baptisia australis (blue false indigo), Silphium lanciniatum (compass plant), and the Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit). After 24 hours, the seeds were counted and recorded. After seven trials, the mice were shown to remove the cup plant seeds and the compass plant seeds more frequently than the blue false indigo seeds and the jack-in-the-pulpit seeds. This research will contribute to the plant community restoration efforts at the Green River Preserve. These findings should help promote new management strategies for the native cup and compass plants in Kentucky.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Michael Stokes, Ph.D.
Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Thomason, Katelyn, "Rodent Seed Preference Trials of Ecologically Important Plants in Kentucky" (2020). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 891.