There are many cases of symbiosis in Rocky Mountain National Park. Lichens are formed by the symbiotic relationship between algae and fungus. Legumes depend on soil bacteria to fix nitrogen into the soil. The list goes on and on. Out of all of these examples, it shouldn’t shock us that a bird and a tree have a mutualistic relationship. The seeds of the Limber Pine are dispersed by the Clark’s Nutcracker. The grey bird’s long beak is perfectly designed to break into the pinecone’s protected exterior and extract the seeds. The nutcrackers will carry the seeds up to 30 km, burying caches that will provide winter and spring food or will germinate to grow new saplings.
On Sept. 17, learn about the successes and challenges the limber pine metapopulation is facing with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute. This seminar, RMNP Limber Pine Metapopultion: The Role of Clark’s Nutcracker & Other Dynamics, will explore how the white pine blister rust is affecting the tree’s population, and how this will in turn affect the Clark’s Nutcracker. Participants in this seminar will hike to one of Rocky’s largest Limber Pine stands to observe the nutcrackers.
This course is instructed by Tyler Williams, who is currently working on his MS in biology at the University of Colorado-Denver. Williams is currently studying the dynamics of the limber pine metapopulation within Rocky Mountain National Park. This project is funded by Rocky Mountain Conservancy’s Bailey Research Fellowship.
For more information or to register for this seminar, call 970-586-3262 or visit rmconservancy.org/events.