During a hike, it is very common to come home with muddy boots. Who would have thought that the mud on your boots could be important? Well it sure can be! When hiking, it is easy to pick up seeds or plants on your shoes and bring them home with you, or move them to new places. Within the mud, there are many small organisms, decomposing matter and also seeds! Although the actual chances of transporting a seed is very small, when it happens it could be very important by changing the plant communities and displacing sensitive plant species.
This experiment will show you how common it could be for you to transport a seed on the sole of your shoe. There is a small chance of a seed growing from your shoe as that seed needs to have just the right conditions to do so but many people with many shoes increase this chance.
The aim of the experiment is to see if you are transporting seeds by examining mud and soil collected from where you have been by your shoes. If you are lucky, you will see some vegetation growing in pots with soils collected from your boots. By comparing these seedlings with those from a local soil you will see if you have brought something from outside. Make sure you do this during Spring or Summertime as that is when the plants will grow. In a real-life scientific experiment, scientists would have used many more pots to increase the chance of finding a hitch-hiking seed.