Acorn production by oaks (Quercus spp.) is an important food resource for wildlife in many deciduous forests. Its role as a hard mast crop that can be either stored or used to build fat reserves for winter survival cannot be replaced by most other potential foods. Changes in forest management, introduced pests and pathogens, and increased deer populations have resulted in significant changes in the demography of oaks in eastern North America, as evident in Forest Inventory and Analysis data. Specifically, maples (Acer spp.) are replacing oaks in many forests through dominance of the younger age classes. These changes are not yet obvious in mast production but will take decades to reverse. Effective forest management for mast production is arguably one of the more important tasks facing wildlife professionals, yet receives scant attention by both public and private land managers. Public forests need to explicitly include mast production in their forest planning and reduce adversarial relationships over forest management. Market forces are driving commercial forests toward forest certification. Private forests compose 80% of our oak forests and are the hardest group to influence. States have not been able to effectively market forest plans and we recommend joining with advocacy groups more adept at motivating the public. Increased communication between wildlife and forestry professionals is needed through agency restructuring and joint meetings of professional agencies at the state level. Professional wildlife and forest managers are encouraged to make increased use of monitoring data and form a multiagency cooperative using a joint venture model, which has been successful for other organizations.
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Vol. 71 • No. 5