Acorns to Oaks to OPUS


Research by Michael A. Steele, Wilkes biology professor, is helping to improve understanding about the lack of oak tree regeneration – a significant problem in forests around the world including in the United States, northwest Canada, Spain, Portugal, Scotland and Costa Rica. One of the world’s foremost authorities on oak seed dispersal and on tree squirrels, Steele’s work demonstrates how animals store acorns in the ground and also how certain ecological processes prevent the recovery of some acorns, allowing them to germinate, oak seedlings to take root and forests to grow.

Steele has received an OPUS Award, one of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious grants, to write a book synthesizing more than 25 years of his research. In addition to enhancing oak regeneration, it also will offer new insights into how the relationship between seeds and animals who consume them drive ecological processes in forest ecosystems.