Hiking socks 'spread plant seeds'

Published: 26th July 2011

Hiking socks 'spread plant seeds'
Hikers may be inadvertently helping to spread plants across Australia's largest national park, a study published in Biological Invasions by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) has found.

Planet Earth Online has reported that up to 1.9 million invasive plant seeds can become attached to ramblers' socks. A further 2.4 million could also attach themselves to walking trousers.

The scientists studying plant species patterns around the Kosciuszko National Park found that seeds attached far better to socks than to trousers and after a five-kilometre walk were often still present.

"Becoming attached to people's clothing is a particularly good way for seeds to get dispersed," one of the authors of the study, Professor James Bullock from CEH, told the news site.

Mr Bullock advised hikers to attempt to remove seeds where possible, to prevent spoiling fragile ecosystems with the introduction a new plant species.

The Kosciuszko National Park contains the highest mountain on mainland Australia, as well as the famous Snowy River and is a popular destination for walkers.

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