Evaluating the potential for weed seed dispersal based on waterfowl consumption and seed viability

Pest Management Science
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Migratory waterfowl have often been implicated in the movement of troublesome agronomic and wetland weed species. However, minimal research has been conducted to investigate the dispersal of agronomically important weed species by waterfowl. The two objectives for this project were to determine what weed species are being consumed by ducks and snow geese, and to determine the recovery rate and viability of 13 agronomic weed species after passage through a duck's digestive system.


Seed recovered from digestive tracts of 526 ducks and geese harvested during a 2‐year field study had 35 020 plants emerge. A greater variety of plant species emerged from ducks each year (47 and 31 species) compared to geese (11 and 3 species). Viable seed from 11 of 13 weed species fed to ducks in a controlled feeding study were recovered. Viability rate and gut retention times indicated potential dispersal up to 2900 km from the source depending on seed characteristics and variability in waterfowl dispersal distances.


Study results confirm that waterfowl are consuming seeds from a variety of agronomically important weed species, including Palmer amaranth, which can remain viable after passage through digestive tracts and have potential to be dispersed over long distances by waterfowl.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evaluating the potential for weed seed dispersal based on waterfowl consumption and seed viability
Series title Pest Management Science
DOI 10.1002/ps.4710
Volume 73
Issue 12
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 12 p.
First page 2592
Last page 2603
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