thorny question: Oaks

Richard L. Brown moth at RA.MSSTATE.EDU
Tue May 16 09:12:49 CDT 2000

I have appreciated reading responses to the first query regarding thorny
plants, and will respond to some of the points later.  The following is an
expansion of why there are localized areas of thorned/bristled plants.
These questions are are posed to obtain ecological and host plant
information in order to analyze distributional patterns of disjunct species
of moths in our Blackbelt.

The Mississippi Blackbelt has a large number of Quercus species, but the
oak-hickory forests in this area have more numbers of individuals in the
Red Oak group, with bristles on leaves, than individuals of White Oak
group.  Outside the Blackbelt, there are more individuals of the White Oak

1. Are there any data to show that vertebrate browsers prefer leaves of
white oaks over the bristled leaves of red oaks (the latter also having
more tannins)?

2. Why might there be more individuals of red oaks than white oaks in the
Blackbelt than in forests a few miles outside of the Blackbelt?

3. Does anyone know if the oak-hickory forest of the Blackbelt might be
more closely allied with Braun's western mesophytic forest, as occurs
through Tennessee and Kentucky, or with the oak-hickory forest as found in
the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri?

4. Are there any correlations between abundance of thorny plants and
members of the Red Oak group in other areas of the U.S.

Richard L. Brown
Mississippi Entomological Museum
Box 9775
Mississippi State, MS 39762
phone: (662) 325-2085
fax: (662) 325-8837
e-mail: moth at

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