Autumn in a nutshell
The crackle beneath your feet, a sudden thump on the ground nearby. These familiar autumn sounds of forest and backyard indicate that summer has come to a close and many species of trees have begun to disperse their large crop of seeds and nuts. Great quantities of these are gobbled up by native wildlife as a seasonal, nutrient-rich food source that is especially useful to animals preparing for energy consuming survival strategies like migration and hibernation.
Squirrels famously store large collections of nuts in hidden caches for the winter to come. This is useful for the trees as well since not every buried seed is recovered before it sprouts into a young tree. It might be a long time before an acorn produces a large harvest of its own though – it can take 50 years or more for some oak tree species to produce an abundant harvest!
Opportunities to learn about the change of seasons and our local ecosystem can be found at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center through live animal exhibits, planetarium shows, preschool classes, field trips, and scout programs. View current schedule at www.lensc.org.
Jordan Ladikos is on staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.