Morphological and ecological relationships between burrs and furs

Mason W. Kulbaba, Jacques C. Tardif, Richard J. Staniforth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Epizoochory is the mode of seed dispersal where a diaspore (disseminating plant propagule) is disseminated on the external surface of an animal. While the structures that facilitate diaspore adherence are diverse, epizoochory is considered to be relatively rare (approximately 10% of angiosperms), but is commonly utilized by several invasive plant species. We experimentally sought species specific associations between the adherence and retention of eight common plant species' diaspores and five mammalian furs, plus human clothing. We sought relationships between both fur and diaspore characteristics in both the adherence and retention of diaspores. Diaspores of Geum aleppicum were the only ones interacting significantly better with one kind of substrate (mouse fur) than diaspores of all other plant species by being retained well in mouse fur. Alternatively, bison fur behaved as a "generalist" disperser, by consistendy accommodating the adherence and retention of a wide range of diaspore morphologies. Finally, exotic plant species displayed a higher tendency than natives to adhere to a variety of mammal fur types, indicating a more flexible dispersal strategy for the invasive habit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-391
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


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