They started with bear poop. What resulted will astonish you: 1,200 new plants.
In a fun new experiment in Rocky Mountain National Park, workers collected bear scat in the park last fall – and then decided to plant the scat in the park’s greenhouse and see what happened – What resulted surprised them all.
Notes a spokesperson for the park, Kyle Patterson, bear scat is often mostly seeds because berries are a large part of their diet in the late summer and fall.
Rather than pick through the scat, they simply mixed it with soil in germination trays – and were astounded by how successful the project was, with more than 1,200 seedlings resulting from a single scat collection.
The seedlings were primarily Chokecherry and Oregon Grape – both of which can be hard to plant naturally.
Patterson says it can be difficult to germinate these tree species because the Chokecherry, for example, has an extremely hard, thick seed coat that needs to be broken down in order to allow the seed to germinate.
Because the seeds passed through the bear’s digestive system, however, that seed coat was broken down – which allowed them to grow quite well.
Park officials note the seedlings will be planted this summer in appropriate parts of the park – including some areas near where the scat was collected.
Other seedlings will be used to rehabilitate an area originally disturbed for a waterline project in the park in 2016.
Learn more in a video courtesy Channel 9 news:
Many of the Oregon Grape seedlings will be planted to rehabilitate the ground disturbance from the replacement of the park’s main waterline project in 2016.
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