Germination rates of tree seeds ingested by coyotes and raccoons.
Germination rates were determined for persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), American plum (Prunus americana) and pawpaw (Asimina triloba) seeds ingested by coyotes (Canis latrans), and for persimmon and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) seeds ingested by raccoons (Procyon lotor); the tree species occur in southern Illinois. Germination rates for ingested seed were also compared with rates for uningested seeds. The germination rate of persimmon seeds ingested by raccoons was significantly higher than the rate for uningested seeds. Both were significantly higher than the rate for coyote-ingested seeds. Among coyote-ingested seeds, germination rates of persimmon were significantly higher when seeds were protected by undigested fruit pulp or intact seed sheaths thus reducing the exposure of seeds to gastrointestinal enzymes. American plum seeds ingested by coyotes had a significantly lower germination rate compared with uningested seeds, whereas germination of pawpaw seeds was similar between coyote-ingested and uningested seeds. Germination was significantly lower for hackberry seeds ingested by raccoons compared with uningested seeds. Ingestion improved germination only for persimmon seeds consumed by raccoons, but tree species may realize other benefits from dispersal by coyotes and raccoons (e.g., reduced parental competition).