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This time of the year, when you walk through a forest you see lots of acorns on the ground…not this year…

 

It is a phenomenon happening throughout the Northeast. While last fall set a recorded high for acorn production, at roughly 250 pounds per tree, this year is seeing a recorded low, with a typical tree shedding less than half a pound of its seeds. On average, oaks produce about 25 to 30 pounds of acorns a year.

What’s going on?

While scientists do not fully understand why this year has produced the lowest acorn crop in 20 years of monitoring, there is nothing unusual about large fluctuations in the annual number of acorns. Fingers are not being pointed at climate change

How will this impact humans?

Coming on the heels of an acorn glut, the dearth this year will probably have a cascade of effects on the forest ecosystem, culling the populations of squirrels, field mice and ground-nesting birds. And because the now-overgrown field mouse population will crash, legions of ticks — some infected with Lyme disease — will be aggressively pursuing new hosts, like humans. It will probably turn into a big year for animals’ being killed on highways as well. Deer, in search of alternative sources of food, will leave the cover of the oak trees and wander out closer to roads.

Who knew?

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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/nyregion/boom-and-bust-in-acorns-will-affect-many-creatures-including-humans.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/12/12/acorn.shortage/index.html