Pulsed Resources and Consumer Communities in Terrestrial Systems

Hub Species

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.

Hub Species

Some of the clearest examples of the consequences of pulsed resources are found in deciduous and coniferous forests dominated by mast-producing trees such as oaks. In these systems, populations of mast-consuming mammals, such as the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), and eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) initiate cascades of direct and indirect effects that permeate throughout these forest-based food webs. White-footed mice in particular, and their counterparts in other terrestrial communities, are considered a "hub species" because they are central to a web of interactions with various predators, prey, competitors, parasites, and pathogens.

Our studies have revealed that episodic acorn production directly influences: (1) the abundance, distribution, and behavior of white-footed mice. As a consequence, acorn production indirectly influences: (2) tick abundance, infection prevalence and Lyme disease risk; (3) population dynamics of gypsy moths; (4) nesting success and population dynamics of ground-nesting songbirds; and (5) survival of tree seeds and seedlings.

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