The experimentally-minded folks at Rocky Mountain National Park planted a pile of bear droppings to fully understand the effect animals have on seed dispersion in the wild.
The scat, collected last fall, was mixed with soil in small germination trays and has since sprouted 1,200 new seedlings to eventually be moved inside the park’s borders.
“Animals are great seed dispersers and of course what comes in one way goes out the other,” the park said on its Facebook page. “After defecation, seeds are left in a rich, moist medium that nourishes the growing seedling.”
Given that berries are such a large part of bear’s diet in the late summer and fall, the seedlings consist of primarily Oregon-grape and Chokecherry plants, but officials noted that there are a few Creeping Barberry plants sprouting as well.
According to Kyle Patterson of Rocky Mountain National Park, it can often be difficult to germinate these specific species because many of them have a hard seed coat that needs to be broken down to germinate. She noted that the process of the seed traveling through the bear’s digestive system does a great job of breaking down that tough outer shell, prepping the seed for germination.
The seedlings are expected to be planted in the park this summer, particularly in areas affected by the replacement of the park’s main waterline in 2016, according to reports from 9news.
Feature Image: Rocky Mountain National Park