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1 December 2015 American Chestnut Caching by Red Squirrels
Bernd Heinrich
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Abstract

I observed Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (Red Squirrel) harvesting Castanea dentata (American Chestnut) fruits in 2 different manners: they either snipped off relatively immature fruit (burrs) and chewed them open on the ground to feed on the unripe seeds, or they foraged on the tree as the ripened fruit opened and released their seeds, carried 1 seed at a time down to the ground, and cached them. I also saw Cyanocitta cristata (Blue Jay) on the trees, but only after the fruit dehisced. Both Blue Jays and Red Squirrels likely played a significant role in the dispersal of American Chestnut seeds, but the Blue Jays spread primarily single or several seeds per cache, while the Red Squirrels created caches of seeds clustered closely together.

Bernd Heinrich "American Chestnut Caching by Red Squirrels," Northeastern Naturalist 22(4), (1 December 2015). https://doi.org/10.1656/045.022.0406
Published: 1 December 2015
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