Rat Attack
Population Explosion
Launch interactive

Population Explosion

Some species of plant, like the Melocanna bamboo seen in "Rat Attack," put out their seeds, or fruits, only periodically—in the case of the Melocanna, only every 48 years. But when they do, all their members do so simultaneously, an event that can have a far-reaching ecological impact. Such a mass production of seed or fruit floods the surrounding habitat with a resource it isn't used to having every year. This resource pulse can trigger a domino effect, resulting in population explosions and declines among a wide variety of animal species, some of which rely only indirectly on the seed or fruit. In this interactive, explore one of the most well-understood resource pulses—that of oak-tree acorn crops—and its widespread effects on the ecosystem as well as on nearby human populations.—Melissa Salpietra

Downloadable version (Windows, 1.4MB)
Downloadable version (Mac OS X, 192K)

Rat Attack Home | Send Feedback | Image Credits | Support NOVA

© | Created February 2009