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Return of Natural Hardwood Regeneration in a Cleared Watershed

Many of California’s watersheds have been cleared of their tree and shrub cover, often with the goal of improving grazing conditions for livestock. Large areas of these watersheds can remain with few trees because several oak species are not regenerating adequately to replace removed trees. As a result, these watersheds are susceptible to soil erosion, diminished and degraded wildlife habitat, and decreased water quality.

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Habitat Fragmentation Limits Pollen Availability and Acorn Production in Blue Oak

Although the negative consequences of habitat fragmentation in forested landscapes are becoming better understood, we still know remarkably little about the effects of tree removal on the pollination dynamics of the remaining trees. Oaks and many other trees of temperate regions worldwide are wind-pollinated and require the transfer of pollen from neighboring trees to produce seed. When pollen is released into the air, the density of pollen grains declines rapidly with increasing distance from the source. Isolated oak trees may therefore receive insufficient pollen, and acorn numbers may be reduced.

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