Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Curious interaction in regeneration of oak forests: Voles know which acorns have insect larvae

Date:
January 22, 2013
Source:
madrimasd
Summary:
Researchers have observed as voles are able to distinguish the acorns containing insect larvae from those that do not. This fact determines the dispersion and germination of acorns, and therefore the regeneration of forests of oaks.

A vole.
Credit: Ramσn Perea

Researchers at the UPM have observed as voles are able to distinguish the acorns containing insect larvae from those that have not. This fact determines the dispersion and germination of acorns, and therefore the regeneration of forests of oaks.

Related Articles


The Haedo de Montejo (Madrid) is a well preserved mixed forest of oak and beech. This is the place where researchers at the School of Forestry from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid have carried out a research on scattering patterns of acorns for voles and found that when seed are attacked by insects, the fact that larva is or not inside of the acorn can modify the dispersion pattern, and consequently the regeneration of these types of forests.

The acorns are the fruits produced by oaks, holm oaks and cork oaks that perpetuate their species, move and colonize new places. They are autumnal fruits highly valued by wildlife because of its large size, its abundance and its high calorie lipid and carbohydrate. They are many animals interested in this fruit, some of them even before they ripen and fall into the ground.

This is the case of small beetles, the weevils (Curculio sp.), that lay their eggs inside the unripe acorns when they are still growing in the tree. These eggs hatch small larvae in worms shaped and feed inside the acorns without altering the external appearance of this fruit. After, the acorns fall into the ground and are reachable for the rest of animals that seek this fruit during the autumn days (wild boar, deer and mice, among others). When larva completes its development it drills a small hole out of the acorn and buries itself in the soil and, through the metamorphosis, becomes a new adult beetle.

Voles are the main consumers of acorns and they hide this fruit during autumns in order to consume them in winter time. However, many acorns are forgotten in hiding places allowing them a better germination and consequently new trees. Surprisingly, the same acorn is usually moved or stolen by another vole, and achieving so a dispersal distance up to hundreds meters with respect to its mother tree and, therefore contributing to better movement of genes and a successful regeneration of these trees.

But, what do voles do with the attacked acorns by beetle larvae? There is not just an answer and depends on the fact that larvae has gone out or has stayed in the acorn. Acorns whose larvae had emerged out were rapidly rejected by voles barely touching, moving or storing them. These acorns were exposed on the ground and failed to thrive in a new tree.

However, those acorns in which the larva was still inside the fruit were moved and stored by voles. The study reveals that voles liked these larvae (rich in proteins) and feed on them, decreasing the harm produced by these worms over the acorns. Therefore, voles scattered and buried these acorns that finally contributed to generate new plants. The fact that the larva was still inside resulted definitive for the near future of the acorn, and therefore, the future of oak forests.

The nature maintains its compensation mechanisms and, an apparent harmful beetle can be attractive to voles that, at the same time, releases acorns from this enemy and help them to thrive thanks to its rich substance what allows them to survive winter and maintain this favorable relationship between vole and acorn.

These results reveal that we do not know ye the behavior of those ecosystems that we aim to preserve. The knowledge of multiple existing interactions among animals and plants are essential to know what should be protected and how our forests should be protected.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by madrimasd. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ramσn Perea, David Lσpez, Alfonso San Miguel, Luis Gil. Incorporating insect infestation into rodent seed dispersal: better if the larva is still inside. Oecologia, 2012; 170 (3): 723 DOI: 10.1007/s00442-012-2350-8

Cite This Page:

madrimasd. "Curious interaction in regeneration of oak forests: Voles know which acorns have insect larvae." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122101636.htm>.
madrimasd. (2013, January 22). Curious interaction in regeneration of oak forests: Voles know which acorns have insect larvae. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122101636.htm
madrimasd. "Curious interaction in regeneration of oak forests: Voles know which acorns have insect larvae." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122101636.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins