Made for Each Other: A Symbiosis of Birds and Pines
Some trees and birds are made for each other. Take, for example, the whitebark pine, a timberline tree that graces the moraines and ridgetops of the northern Rockies and the Sierra Nevada-Cascades system. This lovely five-needled pine, long-lived and rugged though it is, cannot reproduce without the help of Clark's nutcracker. And the nutcracker, though it captures insects in the summer and steals a bit of carrion, cannot raise its young in these alpine habitats without feeding them the nutritious seeds of the whitebark pine. Between them, these dwellers of the high mountains provide for each others' posterity, which leads biologists to label their relationship symbiotic, or mutualistic. But there is more to it than that, because in playing out their roles these partners change the landscape. The environment they create provides life's necessities to many other plants and animals. Working in concert, Clark's nutcracker and the whitebark pine build ecosystems. In Made for Each Other: A Symbiosis of Birds and Pines, Ronald M. Lanner details for the first time this fascinating relationship between pine trees and Corvids (nutcrackers and jays), showing how mutualism can drive not only each others' evolution, but affect the ecology of many other members of the surrounding ecosystem as well. Lanner explains that many of the world's pines have seeds not adapted to wind dispersal. Fortunately, their seeds are harvested from the cone and scattered over many miles by seed-eating jays and nutcrackers who bury millions of seeds in the soil as a winter food source. Remarkably, these "pine nut" dependent birds can find their caches even through deep snow. Seeds left in the soil germinate, perpetuating the pines and guarantee future seeds for future birds. Moreover, the newly "planted" whitebark pine groves encourage further tree growth, such as Engelmann spruce, and eventually the patches of open-grown woodland coalesce, forming a continuous forest. Large forest stands offer cover for large animals like bear, elk, and moose, and provide territories for Red Squirrels. These squirrels also depend on pine seeds as a food source, storing large quantities of seeds on the ground, piled up against fallen logs or stumps, or buried in the forest litter. In the fall both black and grizzly bears are preparing to hibernate and must increase their stores of body fat. The seeds of whitebark pine are large and very rich, containing sixty to seventy percent fat, and are an ideal food for this purpose. The large seed reserves created by the squirrels become a feasting ground for these bears. Meanwhile, the sun-loving trees shaded out by the maturing decay offer housing for cavity-nesters like woodpeckers and nuthatches, as well as a breeding ground for fungi which are eagerly devoured by mule deer and red squirrels in search of protein. Eventually, when the forest is ignited in one of the thunderstorms so common and so violent in the high country, an open area is created, attracting nutcrackers in need of a new cache site, and the cycle begins again. Focusing on the Rocky Mountains and the American Southwest, and ranging as far afield as the Alps, Finland, Siberia, and China, this beautifully illustrated and gracefully written work illuminates the phenomenon of co-evolution.
What people are saying - Write a review
Made for each other: a symbiosis of birds and pinesUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Combining personal research with the works of others, Lanner (professor emeritus, Utah State) presents a documented account of the obligatory mutualism that exists between those species of pines ... Read full review
2 The Genus of Pines
3 Stone Pine Seeds and Cones
4 The Pine Birds
5 The TopoftheLine Pinivore
7 Other Arrangements
8 Who Needs Clarks Nutcracker?
10 The Odd Couple
11 Pine Nuts and People
14 Is the Keystone Slipping?
9 Building Ecosystems
Other editions - View all
Alps ayacahuite Balda behavior bill bird pines bristlecone cached seeds caches caching area Cembrae chipmunks Clark’s Nutcracker clumps Colorado pinyon cone crop cone scales conifers corvids Crocq dispersal Engelmann spruce established Eurasian Nutcracker European Nutcrackers foraging forest genetic germinate Grizzly Bears groves Harry Hutchins Japanese stone pine Japanese white pine kedr Korean stone pine lacebark pine Lanner large numbers limber pine mature Mexican white pine Mexico middens Mountains mutualistic North America northern nutcracker’s observed percent pine nuts pine’s pines grow Pinyon Jay pinyon pines plant populations pouch range Red Squirrels Rockies rodents Russian Scrub Jay seed caches seed crop seedlings Siberian Nutcrackers Siberian stone pine Sierra Nevada singleleaf pinyon soft pines soil species Squaw Basin Steller’s Jay stone pine seeds stored studies subalpine subspecies survive Swiss stone pine thousand Tomback trees Utah western western white pine whitebark pine cones whitebark pine nuts whitebark pine seeds wingless seeds woodland Wyoming