Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Population Ecology

  • By Melissa Salpietra
  • Posted 02.24.09
  • NOVA

Some plant species put out their seeds, or fruits, only periodically, and when they do, the seeding event can have far-reaching ecological impacts. In this interactive, explore one of the most well-understood mass seedings—that of oak-tree acorn crops—and its widespread effects on various animals in the ecosystem as well as on nearby human populations.

Launch Interactive

When oak trees shed huge numbers of acorns every few years, it has ramifications throughout the ecosystem.

Sources

Jones, C. G. et al. 1998. "Chain reactions linking acorns to gypsy moth outbreaks and Lyme disease risk." Science, 279: pp. 1023-1026.

Ostfeld, R. S. et al. 2006. "Climate, deer, rodents, and acorns as determinants of variation in Lyme-disease risk." PLoS Biology, 4(6): pp. 1058-1068.

Ostfeld, R. S., and F. Keesing. 2000. "Pulsed resources and community dynamics of consumers in terrestrial ecosystems." Trends Ecol. Evol.,15: pp. 232-237.

Ostfeld, R. S., and C. G. Jones. 1999. "Peril in the understory." Audubon Magazine, 101(4): pp. 74-82.

Ostfeld, R. S. et al. 1998. "Integrative ecology and the dynamics of species in oak forests." Integrative Biology, 1: pp. 178-186.

Schauber, E. M., R. S. Ostfeld, and A. S. Evans, Jr., 2005. "What is the best predictor of annual Lyme disease incidence: Weather, mice, or acorns?" Ecological Applications, 15: pp. 575-586.

Schmidt, K. A., and R. S. Ostfeld. 2008. "Numerical and behavioral effects within a pulse-driven system: Consequences for direct and indirect interactions for shared prey." Ecology, 89(3): pp. 635-646.

Schmidt, K. A., S. A. Rush, and R. S. Ostfeld. 2008. "Wood thrush nest success and post-fledging survival across a temporal pulse of small mammal abundance in an oak forest." Journal of Animal Ecology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01378.x

Yang, L.H. et al. 2008. "What can we learn from resource pulses?" Ecology, 89(3): pp. 621-634.

Yang, L.H. and S. Naeem. 2008. "The ecology of resource pulses, Ecology, 89(3): pp. 619-620.

Credits

Image

(oak forest)
© AVTG/istockphoto

Illustrations

(all)
© WGBH Educational Foundation

Related Links

  • Rat Attack

    Why do huge swarms of rats overrun a bamboo forest in India once every half-century?

  • Plant vs. Predator

    Ecologist Dan Janzen demystifies a once-a-half-century mass seeding and its stupendous impact.

  • Life Returns to the Blast Zone

    In this audio slide show, ecologist Charlie Crisafulli marvels at nature's recovery after St. Helens’s 1980 eruption.

Close

You need the Flash Player plug-in to view this content.