New paper: fecundity and the intensity of mast seeding increase as trees get older

tl;dr: fecundity of major forest-forming tree species in temperate European forests increases with forest age, and so is the intensity of mast seeding.

Our recent paper on temporal trends in masting behavior of common European forest trees is out in Global Change Biology!

Using a long-term (54 years) data on seed production in seven dominant tree species in Poland, we investigated factors driving temporal trends of mast seeding. We found that fecundity increased over time in all species and this was mostly due to changes in stand age. Moreover, temporal variability of seed production also increased over time in all species except one. Our results suggest a pivotal role of demographic effects in driving the extent, variability and synchrony of reproduction in temperate forest trees.

You can read the paper here and on ResearchGate.

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Białowieża Forest (Poland) – one of the last and largest remnants of the primeval forests in temperate Europe. © Jakub Szymkowiak

Jakub

Wood warblers, jays, and mast seeding – new paper!

Our recent paper on how wood warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) manage nest predation risk via informed habitat selection decisions is now available online!

Using a playback experiment, we showed that wood warblers eavesdrop on predator calls and avoid settling at sites with high perceived risk of nest predation by Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius). However, the way wood warblers adjust habitat choices to the nest predation risk posed by jays is affected by… tree mast seeding! This is likely due to cascading effects of masting on the population dynamics of rodents and generalist predators, creating temporal peaks of elevated nest predation risk for wood warblers.

If you are interested in the full story, you can read it here and on ResearchGate. Enjoy!

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The wood warbler. © Jakub Szymkowiak

Jakub

Local climate mediates the effects of weather on seed production in sessile oak, but not in European beech – new paper!

Our recent paper on the effects of local climate on the correlation between weather and seed production in sessile oak (Quercus petraea) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is now available online!

Weather is believed to play a key role in triggering mast seeding in plants. However, while the relationships between weather and seed production are well-recognized for some species, there is also a range of species for which there seems to be no consistent links between meteorological conditions and seeding. Our results suggest that this puzzle can be explained by the variation in life history traits among species i.e., whether a particular species is a “flowering masting species” (= with seed production determined by variable flower production) or “fruit-maturation masting species” (= with seed production determined by variable ripening of more constant flower production). In particular, our results suggest that in case of “flowering masting species” (in our study: European beech), the meteorological cuing is spatially-consistent. In contrast, in “fruit-maturation masting species” (in our study: sessile oak) the effects of weather cues on seed production are mediated by the local climate, which leads to spatial variation in meteorological conditioning of seed production.

You can read the paper here and on ResearchGate. Read also what Michał Bogdziewicz, the leading author, wrote about this study on his page.

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Oaks at the Rogalin Landscape Park, winter 2018/2019 © Jakub Szymkowiak

Jakub