Grace E. Oldfield, Christopher Evans Peck, Anna Marie Peterson


This poster reflects research conducted as part of a course project designed to give students experience in the research process. Course: BIO 459L



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Frugivorous animals are known to drive seed dispersal—an essential ecological function in most ecosystems—and an understanding of these animals’ seed preferences for different types of seeds allows us to identify which types of frugivores are responsible for the dispersal of what seeds.While it is largely understood that seed preference varies by species, we sought to identify if seed preference differed based on elevation. Do tree dwelling species have different seed preferences than those on the ground? We hypothesized that seed consumption would be highest at the ground level, especially for the hard-shelled sunflower seeds, because seeds at the ground level are accessible to all species.Those species that are active on the ground in the spring are known to consume primarily hard nuts and seeds due to their abundance and high nutritional content. To determine the respective consumption rates of the sunflower seeds and peas, we arranged six feeding pans (3 pans on the ground level, 3 pans suspended from low tree branches) at three different locations within the University of Dayton’s Environmental Research Area. Each feeding pan contained equal parts sunflower seeds and peas by mass (5:1 sunflower to pea ratio) and were set out for three-day intervals for each trial, for three trials in March. At the end of each trial, we recorded the remaining amount of each seed type and compared preference between elevation and location.Because the role of frugivores in the dispersal of seeds is significant in ecosystems, understanding their seed preference patterns may help us to predict the ongoing dynamics of seed dispersal and germination within an ecosystem.

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Project Designation

Course Project

Primary Advisor

Chelse M. Prather, Ryan William Reihart

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Life On Land

Does Height Matter? Determining Frugivore Seed Preference by Elevation Level