US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 1 (2006), pp. 186-190


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Methods to sample the abundance of moist-soil seeds efficiently and accurately are critical for evaluating management practices and determining food availability. We adapted a portable, gasoline-powered vacuum to estimate abundance of seeds on the surface of a moist-soil wetland in east-central Mississippi and evaluated the sampler by simulating conditions that researchers and managers may experience when sampling moist-soil areas for seeds. We measured the percent recovery of known masses of seeds by the vacuum sampler in relation to 4 experimentally controlled factors (i.e., seed-size class, sample mass, soil moisture class, and vacuum time) with 2-4 levels per factor. We also measured processing time of samples in the laboratory. Across all experimental factors, seed recovery averaged 88.4% and varied little (CV = 0.68%, n = 474). Overall, mean time to process a sample was 30.3 ± 2.5 min (SE, n = 417). Our estimate of seed recovery rate (88%) may be used to adjust estimates for incomplete seed recovery, or project-specific correction factors may be developed by investigators. Our device was effective for estimating surface abundance of moist-soil plant seeds after dehiscence and before habitats were flooded.