Climate warming disrupts tree seed production
New research by the University of Liverpool, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland, University of Canterbury Christchurch, New Zealand, Keele University and Manchester Metropolitan University, has revealed the effect of climate warming on the complex interactions between beech trees and the insects that eat their seeds.
Masting, the process by which trees vary the number of seeds they produce year by year, is a characteristic of many forest tree species, including oaks, beeches, pines, and spruces. It is beneficial to the trees because during `famine years’, seed-eating animals (such as moths) are starved so their numbers decrease, while in the `bumper years’, seed production is so high that it satiates insects and seed predators so that some seeds can survive to establish the next generation of trees.
However, a study of beech tree seed production published in the journal Nature Plants, found that increased seed production due to warmer temperatures was accompanied by a reduction in the degree of year-to-year variability in seed production, and specifically a reduction in the frequency of the ‘famine years’. Thus, the main beneficiaries of climate-driven increases in seed production are seed predators, and not the plants themselves.
(Content Courtesy: https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2020/02/10/climate-warming-and-insects-disrupt-tree-seed-production/)