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Plant Focus

Quercus xjackiana acorns
The hybrid of Q. alba and Q. bicolor

Blue Jays and Oaks by Jay Wright

Tim Boland brought to our attention an interesting discussion of dispersal of acorns by Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata). The presentation was hosted by the Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO) and sponsored and is part of AFO Café, a series of informal science conversations about birds, their habitats, and field biology, with a short update on AFO’s programs. 

Jay Wright, Director of Conservation Science, Metroparks Toledo (Ohio, USA) presented “Blue Jays and Oaks: A Seed Dispersal Mutualism Shaping Eastern Hardwood Forests.” Blue Jays are important long-distance dispersers of acorns and other small nuts through their fall caching behavior. For his PhD research, Jay investigated the possible influences of this caching behavior on the ongoing decline of oaks and the anticipated reintroduction of American chestnut in eastern North America. He discussed the results of seed selection trials and the dispersal effectiveness of Blue Jays for oaks and chestnuts in Ohio, as well as the relationship between oak masting cycles and Blue Jay abundance.

The AFO Café is sponsored by Avinet Research Supplies. You can access the view below (starting at Jay Wright's introduction):