It's a story of bears, birds and berries.

In southeastern Alaska, brown and  are plentiful because of salmon. Their abundance also means they are the primary seed dispersers of berry-producing shrubs, according to an Oregon State University study.

The OSU team used motion-triggered cameras to record bears, birds and small mammals eating red  of devil's club, and retrieved DNA in saliva left on berry stalks to identify the species and sex of the bears. Researchers found that bears, while foraging, can disperse through their scat about 200,000 devil's club seeds per square kilometer per hour. Rodents then scatter and hoard those seeds, much like squirrels hoard acorns.

The study was published today in the journal Ecosphere.

In most ecosystems, birds generally are thought of as chief dispersers of seeds in berries, said Taal Levi, an ecologist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences and co-author on the study. The researchers found that birds accounted for only a small fraction of .


Read the full article at: https://phys.org/news/2018-01-great-scat-bearsnot-birdsare-chief.html#jCp

Watch an interview with Taal: http://www.kgw.com/news/local/osu-researchers-use-bear-droppings-to-track-berry-seeds/508647675