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Population Fluctuations of Mast-Eating Rodents Are Correlated with Production of Acorns

Jerry O. Wolff
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1382690 850-856 First published online: 16 August 1996


I used a 14-year dataset on dynamics of mast-consuming rodents from an eastern deciduous forest to determine the relationship between population fluctuations of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), deer mice (P. maniculatus), and eastern chipmunks (Tamias stria-tus) and production of acorn mast. Mast (acorn) production was episodic with four excellent crops produced in 14 years. Densities of rodents in summer ranged from 3 to 103 animals/ha and correlated positively with production of mast the previous autumn (all r2 > 0.56). During years of high production of mast, stores of acorn lasted throughout winter, whereas in most years, acorns were gone by January. During years of high production of mast, mice bred all winter, which resulted in high densities the following summer. Episodic production of mast and resulting fluctuations in consumers of mast have implications for the predator-satiation hypothesis and other community processes.

Key words
  • Tamias
  • Peromyscus
  • acorns
  • mast
  • predator-satiation hypothesis
  • rodents
  • seed predation.