Wednesday, July 3, 2019

New Film: The Ecology of Coevolved Species

Have you ever thought about why nuthatches search a tree's trunk for insects, but seldom search its branches, while chickadees forage in the branches but rarely on the trunk?

At least two species of woodpecker eat ants, but flickers hunt for them on the ground, whereas pileated woodpeckers hunt for them on tree trunks; why?

Northern flicker hunting for ants
Pileated woodpecker hunting for ants

Why are many owl species nocturnal, while hawks are diurnal?

A nocturnal Barred owl
A diurnal Redtail hawk

Why are there ephemeral spring wildflowers, followed by a replacement crop of different summer ones?

Spring Beauty wildflower
Blue Cohosh
Why was the American chestnut ravaged by the chestnut blight?

What makes our forests and other natural environments resilient in times of environmental change?

Maybe you've seen lichen-covered tree trunks and wondered whether those lichens are harming the tree.

Lichen-covered Red Oak

How does competition among species affect their ecological roles?

You'll find answers to questions like these, and more, in a new film titled "The Ecology of Coevolved Species", featuring professor emeritus (Antioch New England) Tom Wessels. Tom is a master of terrestrial ecology, with a well-honed skill for passing his knowledge on to others.

Ecologist Tom Wessels

In this film, Tom explains the ecological principles that help us understand some of the interactions among animal and plant species, what "natural currency" governs those interactions, and some implications of our tinkering with natural environments. After some introductory explanation of the topic, Tom takes us into the forest to see a number of species that have evolved together, thus shaping each other's ecological role.

If you've watched our 3-part "Reading the Forested Landscape" series, or read Tom's book of the same title, you know how skillful Tom is at interpreting what we see in central New England's forests. This film will expand your understanding of how the natural world operates. You won't be disappointed.

The film (and others) can be viewed on our New England Forests Youtube channel, or in the player window below (window may not be available in email feeds). As always, we welcome comments, posted either here or on the channel.