All Things Gardening forum: Cougars accidentally plant around 94,000 plants a year.

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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Dec 31, 2016 6:25 PM CST

Did you know that cougars are great gardeners?

You won't see them carefully pruning bonsai trees with their claws or paging through a Burpee seed catalog, but scientists say that one of these bigs cats can plant around 94,000 seeds in a year. They do this by doing what cats seem to do best: eating and pooping.

Ecologists have been saying since the 1960s that apex predators—the carnivores at the top of their local food chain—keep the world green by killing and eating plant-eaters and keeping them in check, allowing plants to flourish.

But new research suggests that carnivores keep the planet green in an even more direct way…

Biologist José Hernán Sarasola and his research team spent months collecting and picking through cougar scats in Argentina's Parque Luro Natural Reserve, where the cats' diet is mainly made up of eared doves. In just 123 scats, they found nearly 32,000 seeds from different plants that the doves feed on, the bulk of which came from three grasses. When they planted some of these seeds, they sprouted just fine, and passage through the cougars' guts doesn't seem to hurt them.

Given the density of cougars in the reserve, the researchers estimate that the cats could spread about 5,000 seeds from just those three common plants per square kilometer every year.

That’s a lot of seeding, and the researchers say it shows that big cats and other predators are doing an important and overlooked job. By spreading that many seeds around, cougars help plants colonize new and unoccupied areas, and keep genes flowing back and forth between populations.

Just another way how cats make the world a better place ;)
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Name: Cheryl
Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Plumerias Ponds
Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Jan 1, 2017 11:23 PM CST
OOOH! THAAAAT kind of Cougar! Rolling on the floor laughing
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Jan 2, 2017 3:36 PM CST
That's interesting and I wonder how that compares to squirrels, who actually bury the seeds. That's serious gardening.
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The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Jan 2, 2017 11:24 PM CST
Greg ...

Thank you for posting this. I'll try to remember this post the next time I see paw prints up on the top of my slope. I usually just freak out knowing that one of these big cats was passing through my back yard.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Jan 3, 2017 5:20 PM CST

And my cats usta plant catnip everywhere at my previous garden...

And.... what about all the tomato, bell pepper, corn, watermelons and cucumbers they eat? No need for an intermediary... If my cats would stop killing birds and just concentrate on rodents, I'd be a happy camper....

How come those cougars are eating dove, instead of rabbit?

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