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Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Forestry and Natural Resources


Mechanisms of long-distance dispersal are important in establishing and maintaining plant populations in isolated wetland habitats. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have been cited as long-distance dispersers of both native and exotic plant species in North America; however, knowledge regarding their influence in wetlands is limited. Given traditional classification methods for seed dispersal, white-tailed deer are not likely viewed as important dispersal mechanism for wetland plants. We collected naturally deposited white-tailed deer faecal pellet piles from wetlands in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, USA. Pellet piles were cold-stratified and germinated seedlings over a layer of sterile potting mix. The percentage of germinated seedlings with a facultative wetland (FACW) or obligate wetland (OBL) plant indicator status were compared to the frequency of occurrence to those of germinated plants with facultative upland (FACU) or upland (UPL) indicator status. We identified 38 species. Of these, 1 % were UPL, 38 % were FACU, 18 % were FACW and 21 % were OBL. Graminoid species accounted for 42 %; forbs and woody species accounted for 29 % each. Our research has suggested that endozoochory by herbivores contributes to long-distance dispersal of wetland plants.

Source Citation

Flaherty KL, Rentch JS, Anderson JT. 2018. Wetland seed dispersal by white-tailed deer in a large freshwater wetland complex. AoB PLANTS 10: plx074; doi: 10.1093/aobpla/plx074


© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This article was supported by the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.



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