Meet the Mice Who Make the Forest
Its easy to look at a forest and think its inevitable: that the trees came into being through a stately procession of seasons and seeds and soil, and will replenish themselves so long as environmental conditions allow.
Hidden from sight are the creatures whose labor makes the forest possible the multitudes of microorganisms and invertebrates involved in maintaining that soil, and the animals responsible for delivering seeds too heavy to be wind-borne to the places where they will sprout.
If one is interested in the future of a forest which tree species will thrive and which will diminish, or whether those threatened by a fast-changing climate will successfully migrate to newly hospitable lands one should look to these seed-dispersing animals.
All the oaks that are trying to move up north are trying to track the habitable range, said Ivy Yen, a biologist at the University of Maine who could be found late one recent afternoon at the Penobscot Experimental Forest in nearby Milford, arranging acorns on a tray for mice and voles to find.
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