The role of ungulates as contributors to establishment and spread of non-native invasive plants in natural areas is not well known. The objectives of this study were to document whether or not sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta L.) is grazed by ungulates and to quantify the effects of ungulate herbivory on the density and demography of sulfur cinquefoil. Despite reports suggesting sulfur cinquefoil is minimally grazed, our results indicate that substantial grazing of sulfur cinquefoil occurs in a northeastern Oregon natural area. The number of sulfur cinquefoil flowers and seed heads differed significantly (P < 0.0001) among all grazing treatments at all sampling periods. Cattle (Bos Taurus) grazed sulfur cinquefoil throughout early summer, resulting in smaller plants with few flowers and subsequent seed heads. Sulfur cinquefoil was grazed by deer (Odocoileus heminous and O. virginianus) and elk (Cervus elaphus) primarily in the fall and winter by specifically removing just the seed heads. As sulfur cinquefoil reproduces only by seed and seeds typically fall within 3 m of a parent plant, grazing by ungulates and subsequent deposition of the seeds by endozoochory may explain the establishment of satellite infestations across susceptible natural areas.
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