Susan Hoenig
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Mast Year
Mast Year

I work with a bird bander, biologist in the Sourland Mountains of New Jersey. I see the impact of global warming in these forests namely the old oaks and other hardwood trees. I remember walking through the forest floor filled with acorns in Massachusetts, where I grew up. Every few years the oak trees produced quantities of nuts, called the “mast” year. All the oak trees over a large geographic area have the same cycle. This group behavior of masting trees at irregular intervals is a mystery in nature. How do the oaks communicate with each other; how are they balancing this complex evolutionary pattern and surviving in a world of nut-eating predators? The lives of some animal revolve around acorns. Woodpeckers use large, old oak trees for granaries where acorns are stored for generations. Masting is an important phenomenon in the ecological balance of the forest. Global warming may affect this cycle. maple.