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Data from: Mast seeding patterns are asynchronous at a continental scale

Cite this dataset

LaMontagne, Jalene; Pearse, Ian; Greene, David; Koenig, Walter (2020). Data from: Mast seeding patterns are asynchronous at a continental scale [Dataset]. Dryad.


Resource pulses are rare events with a short duration and high magnitude that drive the dynamics of both plant and animal populations and communities. Mast seeding is perhaps the most common type of resource pulse that occurs in terrestrial ecosystems, is characterized by the synchronous and highly variable production of seed crops by a population of perennial plants, is widespread both taxonomically and geographically, and is often associated with nutrient scarcity. The rare production of abundant seed crops (mast events) that are orders of magnitude greater than crops during low seed years leads to high reproductive success in seed consumers and has cascading impacts in ecosystems. Although it has been suggested that mast seeding is potentially synchronized at continental scales, studies are largely constrained to local areas covering tens to hundreds of kilometres. Furthermore, summer temperature, which acts as a cue for mast seeding, shows patterns at continental scales manifested as a juxtaposition of positive and negative anomalies that have been linked to irruptive movements of boreal seed-eating birds. Here, we show a breakdown in synchrony of mast seeding patterns across space, leading to asynchrony at the continental scale. In an analysis of synchrony for a transcontinental North America tree species spanning distances of greater than 5,200 km, we found that mast seeding patterns were significantly asynchronous at distances of greater than 2,000 km apart (all P < 0.05). Other studies have shown declines in synchrony across distance, but not asynchrony. Spatiotemporal variation in summer temperatures at the continental scale drives patterns of synchrony in mast seeding, and we anticipate that this affects the spatial dynamics of numerous seed-eating communities, from insects to small mammals to the large-scale migration patterns of boreal seed-eating birds.


LaMontagne – Bibliography for data sources.doc: This is a bibliography for the datasets used in the study (see also Pearse, LaMontagne, Koenig 2017).

LaMontagne - Site correlations.csv: The data show information for pairs of sites (site1, site2) showing the distance between them based on latitude/longiture, proxmity (1 is the same site, 0 is the farthest distance between sites), and correlations over time between sites for cone production (in year t), mean July temperature (in year t-1), mean July temperature (in year t-2), and total June precipitation (in year t). Temperature and precipitation data were obtained from Daymet for each site.

LaMontagne - Mast year models.csv: These data show the reference for the datasets (see 'Bibliography for data sources.doc' for the full list), location of each site (latitude, longitude), Region (AK=Alaska, YT=Yukon, AB=Alberta, ON=Ontario, QC=Quebec), the occurrence of mast events (1) or no-mast event (0) for each year (Mastyear (is year t)) and the previous year (Mastyear_lagtm1) based on LaMontagne and Boutin (2009) Journal of Vegetation Science. Data on mean monthly July temperature in year tm1 and in year tm2, deltaT is year tm1 minus tm2, and the Anomaly data is the mean based on year tm1 minus (mean temperature from 1985 to year tm2). All temperature data were obtained from Daymet.

Usage notes

See ReadMe files and information in the methods section of LaMontagne et al. 2020. Nature Plants.


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1745496

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1926341

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1256394

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council