Wild Thing: Spring showers bring summer tree seeds…

Wild Thing is an occasional series where JHU Press authors write about the flora and fauna of the natural world—from the rarest flower to the most magnificent beast. 

Guest post by John Koprowski

With the recent passage of the summer solstice, the year continues to progress and the annual cycles of animals hum along.  As observers of and participants in nature, we have just started to see the productivity of spring.  Juvenile squirrels have started to scurry through the forests and neighborhoods as they begin to learn the ropes that will eventually permit them to disperse to a new home.  Females of some species will mate again and try to produce one more litter of offspring before the year ends.  Yes, I did say before the year ends.  Although barely perceptible to people in our homes with artificial lighting, daylength has begun to shorten signaling to many animals in temperate areas that time is working against them in their preparations for winter.

Thinking ahead: Delmarva fox squirrel

The rain showers of the spring have permitted trees that produce large seeds such as oaks, hickories, walnuts, pines, firs, and spruce to fill those seeds.  By the middle or end of the summer, many squirrels will begin to fatten on and then store these seeds to make it through the winter.  Adults will have the benefit of their life experience; dispersing juveniles will have only their innate affinity for such seeds and their ability to hustle!

And so for those of us finding the temperature and humidity of summer a bit unbearable, think like a squirrel and turn your thoughts to preparation for the cold days of winter! As part of your preparations, you might consider Squirrels of the World, the upcoming book from Johns Hopkins University Press I have co-authored with Richard Thorington, Jr., Michael Steele and James Whatton. The book made its debut  debut at the June 2012 annual conference of the American Society of Mammalogists in Reno, Nevada.

John L. Koprowski is a professor at the Wildlife and Fisheries Resources School of Natural Resources at the University of Arizona.With his previously-mentioned coauthors, he wrote Squirrels of the World, now available from the JHU Press.