The 2015 acorn season is in full swing. Here at Hastings Natural History Reserve, the valley oaks, blue oaks and canyon live oaks are carrying acorns that are soon ripe. There are also a few acorns on coast live oaks and California black oaks, but only on very few trees. This field season, I am lucky to have two talented young biologists assist me with field work. Jenna Kohles, who graduated from Clemson and plans on doing graduate work with bats, and John Zeiger, a Cornell graduate with bird fever, have joined me in the beginning of September to collect data on acorn crops and their fate.
Acorn-fiend-in-chief Walt Koenig and his partner in crime Jean Knops made a quick stop at Hastings last week before they set out for the annual California Acorn Survey (check out the project summary here). At the end of the their tour de force throughout California's most beautiful oak habitat (and taco shops), they will be joined by Ian Pearse, another Quercophile, and we will melt minds for the next papers that we will write together.
Later this fall, I will join forces with Scott Sillett from the Smithsonian Institution, and conduct our own annual acorn surveys on Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz, the two largest islands in the Channel Island National Park. While our data set is dwarfed by the Walt & Jean's data, this is already the 8th year that we count acorns on island scrub-oaks and coast live oaks. Such long-term data is extremely valuable, and will hopefully allow us to learn much more about the drivers and consequences of seed production in oaks, and how that affects jays, woodpeckers, and all the other critters that love acorns.
May the force of the acorn be with you!