Influence of fire, topography, and consumer abundance on seed predation in tallgrass prairie

TitleInfluence of fire, topography, and consumer abundance on seed predation in tallgrass prairie
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsReed, AW, Kaufman, GA, Kaufman, DW
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Pagination1459 -1467
Accession NumberKNZ00931

We assessed seed predation by vertebrates and invertebrates in three fire-frequency treatments (<1 year, 1–4 years, and >4 years since fire) and in three topographic positions (upland, limestone breaks, and lowland) in tallgrass prairie. Two types of seed trays, one for vertebrates and one for invertebrates, were placed in each treatment during each nocturnal and diurnal period. Vertebrates removed significantly more seeds than did invertebrates. Fire frequency and topographic position affected seed removal by both vertebrates and invertebrates. Seed removal by invertebrates was influenced negatively by fire; the greatest seed removal occurred in uplands and lowlands in unburned prairie. Vertebrates removed the most seeds in burned prairie and in lowlands and limestone breaks. Time of day also influenced seed removal by vertebrates, as nocturnal vertebrates (assumed to be rodents) removed more seeds than diurnal vertebrates. Abundance of rodents, however, did not predict accurately seed removal in fire treatments or topographic positions, as rodents removed fewer seeds than expected in prairie that had not been burned in >4 years and in lowlands. This pattern likely was due to the presence of a well-developed plant litter layer in both unburned and lowland habitats, which reduces the likelihood of a rodent locating seeds.