Virtual Museum of Canada
Jardin botanique de Montréal 
Centre for Forest Research

Smaller litters, larger offspring

To continue with our dart-throwing analogy, if you'd be more inclined to focus on each individual throw to increase your chances of hitting the target, you have more in common with this butternut tree. It produces many fewer fruit, but the huge food stores in its seeds are better able to guarantee their survival. This quality-based tactic is called K-selection (Strategy in which it is important in the survival of young individuals.).

The fruit of the butternut provides a food source for squirrels. So why does the tree make such tasty seeds? Because this way, everyone wins! Squirrels bury the fruit, stocking up for the winter. But since they sometimes forget some of their hiding places, those seeds have a chance to grow into new trees. The dispersal of seeds by animals is called zoochory (Dispersal of seeds or spores by animals.).

Photo of a Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) with a tree fruit in its bill
Bombycilla garrulus
© Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Sokolyk)
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