USD’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society held a lecture in Farber Hall on “why trees go nuts,” explaining the importance of trees growing nuts and how the process works and impacts the world.
The lecture was given by Victoria L. Sork, a professor at the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at UCLA, who has written over 140 publications about conservation genomics, biology and ecology.
Trees are a long-term evolutionary species and became a species through a long line of evolution, Sork said. She said she wondered why trees were successful, which led her to a number of questions ranging from hybridization to how oaks are famous for the fact that they can hybridize with other species and still maintain their own species integrity.
“All trees in general are what determine ecosystems, and I’ve always thought if you’re going to study, as a species, and you want to understand it, why not study something that matters. So if you lose the trees, you pretty much lose the forest, or you lose the savanna, I mean, they are definitely fundamental,” Sork said.
Andy Lentz, Frank Davis, Delphine Grivet, Doug Scofield and Peter Smouse are Sork’s co-investigators in her research. They did their research at the UC Santa Barbara reserve in the Santa Ynez Valley. Sork wanted to see what an oak savanna habitat looks like.
In their research, Sork and her co-investigators looked into seeing how many acorns they would find on each tree and how they would move and spread out.
Humans have benefited from trees growing nuts, Sork said. People are a part of the ecosystem, and bringing awareness to that is important, Sork said.