A Study of the Impacts of Acorn Production on the Food Chain
Originated by Trudy Battaly, Drew
Panko, and Ed McGowan
This Acorn Study is intended to provide both quantitative and qualitative data to help us understand the significance of acorns in the forest ecology. Our goal is to establish a regional database of yearly acorn production, freely available on line for use by researchers and educators.
Our studies of vertebrates - Northern Saw-whet Owl (Trudy and Drew), Timber Rattlesnake (Ed), and Wood Rat (Ed) - have strongly suggested that the presence of acorns effects both mammal densities and predator densities. The loss of the American Chestnut from our Northeastern forests has left the Oaks and their acorns as a primary source of winter sustenance for our small mammal populations and for all the predators that depend on them.
We need volunteers to collect data from across the region, using the enclosed protocol. The protocol includes acorn visuals and simple counts of acorns, so students of ecology at all levels can participate. Please read the protocol and then register as a participant.
More about Why We Count
Before 1492 the woods of
Around 1900, many eastern farms were abandoned and farming moved West (replacing natural grasslands). As the eastern forests began to regrow, a fungus blight from Asia was accidentally introduced and wiped out the American chestnut in only 30 years! See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_chestnut The Chestnut had been the most important mast producer for both wildlife and humans and now only the Beech, the Hickories and the Oaks remained.
The forest was impoverished and wildlife became dependant on Oaks because they are so numerous and widespread. Oaks became the most important mast producer. Every wildlife researcher or manager needs to know what the acorn crop is like in any given year to make sense of the other wildlife population variations. Some states track acorn production to help set hunter "take" limits.
We hope you'll want to become part of our effort to document the acorn crop every year. You will be contributing to a database which we will make readily available to all researchers, including you.
Field Guide to Native Oaks
Vanderbilt Photos of Oaks by Species
Key to Oaks with Acorns The Million Tree Project
Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Edwin.McGowan@parks.ny.gov