Using novel-grass endophyte associations as an avian deterrent
Birds can be major pests in agricultural and horticultural crops as well as being serious hazards to operating aircraft. Cultivars of perennial ryegrass, a hybrid ryegrass and tall fescue, associated with selected Epichloë fungal endophytes were evaluated in aviary and field experiments for their management potential of three nuisance bird species selected as model systems representative of major bird classifications based on their diet. Granivores, namely European green finches, ate more endophyte-free perennial ryegrass seed than endophyte- infected seed, while the representative omnivores, black-backed gulls, avoided endophyte- enhanced feed pellets. The selected herbivore, Canada geese, showed an aversion to field trial plots sown with endophyte-infected grass containing ergovaline compared with the existing ground cover. Therefore habitat modification using selected grass-endophyte associations offers an effective wildlife management option aimed at reducing birds in problematic areas.