Spatially biased dispersal of acorns by a scatter-hoarding corvid may accelerate passive restoration of oak habitat on California's largest island

Current Zoology
Pesendorfer, Mario B.; Sillett, T. Scott; Morrison, Scott A.
PublisherOxford University Press
SourceWeb of Science
Volume / Issue63 / 4
Pages363 - 367
Total Pages4 pages
Article Link
Editor(s) N/A
Conference / Book Title N/A
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TagsAphelocoma insularis; directional dispersal;
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Conference Title N/A
Conference Date N/A
Publication DateJune 30, 2016
Article Date N/A
GS Citation N/A
AbstractScatter hoarding by corvids (crows, jays, magpies, and nutcrackers) provides seed dispersal for many large-seeded plants, including oaks and pines. When hoarding seeds, corvids often choose nonrandom locations throughout the landscape, resulting in differential survival of seeds. In the context of habitat restoration, such disproportional storing of seeds in areas suitable for germination and establishment can accelerate expansion and recovery of large-seeded tree populations and their associated ecosystems. Here, we investigate the spatial preferences of island scrub jays Aphelocoma insularis during scatter hoarding of acorns (Quercus spp.) on Santa Cruz Island. We use a large behavioral data set on the birds’ behavior in combination with seedling surveys and spatial analysis to determine whether 1) island scrub jays disproportionally cache seeds in specific habitat types, and 2) whether the preferred habitat type is suitable for oak regeneration. Our results show that the jays nonrandomly cache acorns across the landscape; they use chaparral and coastal sage scrub disproportionally while avoiding open and grassy areas. The areas used most often for caching were also the areas with the highest oak seedling densities. We discuss the potential role of these findings for the recovery of Santa Cruz Island’s oak habitat since the 1980s.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
Modified: 1/9/2019 10:29 AM (ET)
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