Animals that eat weed seeds include insects, birds, and mammals. Their contribution to seed removal has been shown to be highly variable, but potentially at rates high enough to reduce weed pressure on farms in the future. As a side project (right now), Randa is learning more about the factors that affect weed seed predation rates in dryland cropping systems in Wyoming. So far, it looks like ants are the most active seed feeders in these environments, although carabid beetles were also found in our 2014 samples.
Randa enjoyed collaborating with the amazing and lovely Sonja Birthisel on her MS work at the University of Maine (along with the wonderful Eric Gallandt, Frank Drummond, and extra patient farmer Mark Guzzi). Through her thesis research, Sonja examined the factors that explain the variation in weed seed predation rates. Learn more about some of our work in this Biological Control publication (Birthisel et al. 2014).