834. Forest Ecology

Julia Morgan, the architect who designed Stuck-Up Inn, believed in building around old trees. The gnarled trees you see winding around the building are coast live oaks, one of the two native trees growing at Asilomar. The oak’s seed, the humble acorn, is a rich, nutritious food for squirrels, acorn woodpeckers, and black-tailed deer. The tall trees you see with pine needles are Monterey Pines – Asilomar’s other native tree. The pines are currently under attack by an insect-borne fungus, pine pitch canker. You might see its symptoms on the trees here – brown, dead-looking branch tips, and globs of honey-colored pitch oozing out of the bark. Asilomar ecologists are using surprising techniques to help the trees fight this fungus. Plants growing on the forest floor make up the forest understory. In these grasses, brush and wildflowers you might see songbirds, the tiny chestnut-backed chickadee, or hummingbirds, feeding on the flowers and shrubs.