Many terrestrial ecosystems are characterized by intermittent production of abundant consumer resources, such as mast seeding and pulses of primary production following unusually heavy rains during El Niño events. Generalities are emerging about how consumer communities respond to these periods of feast and famine. Pulsed resource theory now integrates concurrent theories of top-down and bottom-up control, direct and indirect effects on population dynamics, and temporal variation in interaction webs. A general pattern of resource pulses resulting in consumer growth and decline at several trophic levels has been has been observed in North America, Eurasia, South America, and New Zealand (Ostfeld and Keesing 2000).
In deciduous and coniferous forests dominated by mast-producing trees, such as oaks, consumers are confronted with the sporadic production of abundant resources. Mast-consuming animals, such as the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), rely on these pulsed resources.