Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Meserve, Peter L.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


Seeds--Ecology--Illinois; Soil seed banks--Illinois; Seeds--Illinois; Prairie ecology--Illinois


The goal of this study was to estimate seed rain, seed bank, and seed predation by ants, birds, and small mammals. Seed bank, seed rain, and seed predation were studied in a restored tallgrass prairie at Shabbona Lake State Park in DeKalb County, Illinois. Estimates of the seed rain was obtained from bimonthly seed collections from seed traps from April to December 1997. The seed bank was estimated at three separate dates (March, June, and September 1997) by taking 5 random soil cores from each of the ten experimental plots. Seed predation by ants, birds, and small mammals was evaluated using a combination of three types of native seeds placed in plastic dishes with various exclosures to limit access to specific groups of potential seed predators. Four treatments were run simultaneously at ten experimental stations approximately every two weeks between May 1997 and January 1998. Results showed variable seed rain over time with two major peaks in July and September 1997. Each seed species (with one exception) in the seed rain and seed bank had a clumped distribution. Seed bank numbers decreased from March to September 1997, indicating that seeds were either germinating, dying, or being preyed upon. Seed removal rates for all treatments varied between 0% and 50% from May 1997 to January 1998, with a major peak in late November 1997. Seed removal by birds was highly variable, probably due to migrating birds. Seed removal by ants and small mammals remained under 20% until the winter peak. Ants, birds, and small mammals selected specific seed types. ABSTRACT Based on this study, the reduction in seed bank during the sampling period was less than the seed rain, thus indicating that the seed rain can replenish the seed bank. Seed removal by ants, birds, and small mammals during this time could account for the decrease in seed bank density. There was no evidence of competition between ants, birds, and small mammals. Thus, the dynamics of seed rain, seed bank, and seed predation are highly interrelated.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [59]-63)


63 pages




Northern Illinois University

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