How Mice (and Their Personalities) Determine Where Trees Grow
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When you walk in a forest, you probably rarely think about how that tree got to that place. Perhaps, when you think about it, it seems like a coincidence. Or something controlled by the available space and how the tree itself uses it.
But biologist Ivy Yen of the University of Maine knows better, according to The New York Times. In a giant experimental forest, she investigates the relationship between how tree seeds are dispersed and the behavior of the animals that take them with them.
In that forest, the research group she belonged to had already provided 2,000 rats and mice with a traceable chip in seven years. These animals were regularly presented with trays of seeds from native trees. The wildlife camera always records the animal running around with the seeds. Then a non-toxic powder on the ground showed where they had taken the seeds and whether they were kept somewhere or eaten.
The researchers are now analyzing all that data, from all those seeds, and their fates and the behavior of their bearers. They have already seen that the nature of the animals helps determine which seeds they take with them and also that the presence of predators affects how the seeds are handled.
They also saw that there were more brave animals in the forest areas where the trees had been felled and that there was a greater contrast of characters in the wild forest. The researchers hope to discover more about how all of this contributes to where the tree grows. Because if we want to protect our ecosystems and map their future, we first need to know how they are formed.
Read more: Meet the mice that make up the forest.
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