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Every once in a while, all the oaks or spruces or other plants in a region suddenly produce a tremendous bounty of seeds – up to 100 times more than usual. But why do they do it, and how do they all manage to sync up?
To learn more about mast seeding, start your googling with these keywords:
Mast Year: A year in which all the plants of a particular species in a region ramp up their seed production.
Predator Satiation Hypothesis: The hypothesis that mast seeding is a strategy plants use for controlling the population of squirrels and other seed-eating animals.
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Fletcher, Quinn E., Stan Boutin, Jeffrey E. Lane, Jalene M. LaMontagne, Andrew G. McAdam, Charles J. Krebs, and Murray M. Humphries. 2010. “The Functional Response of a Hoarding Seed Predator to Mast Seeding.” Ecology 91 (9): 2673–83.
Kelly, Dave, and Victoria L. Sork. 2002. “Mast Seeding in Perennial Plants: Why, How, Where?” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 33 (1). Annual Reviews: 427–47.
Kelly, D. 1994. “The Evolutionary Ecology of Mast Seeding.” Trends in Ecology & Evolution 9 (12): 465–70.
LaMontagne, J. 2018. Personal Communication.