Something Wild: Boom a Bust Cycles

This episode of Something Wild was produced by Andrew Parrella: The number of acorns a tree produces in a given year has to do with masting. Not mast like on tall ships, but mast as in masticate, or to chew and it refers to the fruit, seeds or nuts that trees produce and are in turn fodder for animals. Especially in New Hampshire, oak mast follows a boom or bust cycle, which means the amount of acorns varies from year to year. Over time, evolution has favored the oak trees that demonstrate this boom or bust cycle. This keeps seed consumers off balance and that's actually a good thing. If there were the same amount of acorns every year, there would be just enough mice and turkey and deer and others to consume every single acorn. However, by producing very few acorns a couple of years running, they starve the animals and the populations of seed predators crash. Then, the oak has a boom year and there aren't enough animals to eat them all, which allows some of those acorn to become trees.

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