Weeds And Endangered Herbs Have Unforeseen Dispersal Helpers In The Agri-environment: Gastropods And Earthworms
Agri-environmental schemes involving organic farming or set-aside management aim at promoting biodiversity and restoring ecosystem functioning in agrarian landscapes. Application of pesticides in these crop fields is strongly regulated facilitating the spread of weeds but also allowing for the establishment of endangered herbs and a variety of animals. Recent studies found gastropods and earthworms to be legitimate dispersers of seeds of wild plants. We assumed that both groups also play a significant role in the spread and establishment of wild plants within crop fields. Therefore, we are conducting a series of experiments in three different study systems on (1) the role of earthworms and gastropods as dispersers of rare herbs and weeds in an organic rye field in Germany, (2) the seed feeding behavior of gastropods of plants sown in fallow ground in Switzerland, and (3) weed dispersal in irrigated rice fields by golden apple snails in the Philippines.