One hundred and fifty years ago, the oak woods near Nowhere would have been home to red squirrels. Now they have all disappeared.
The red squirrels have been replaced by grey squirrels that were introduced into the UK from the United States in the 1870s.
Grey squirrels spread to nearly all parts of the UK, replacing the red squirrels wherever they went. Now red squirrels are only found in a few places, where they are protected.
Grey squirrels are 60% better at digesting oak acorns than red squirrels, which seem to prefer hazel nuts. Oak acorns are much more common in Nowhere Wood than hazel nuts, and this favours the grey squirrel.
The success of grey squirrels at surviving and breeding in Nowhere Wood is due to the production of acorns, which varies from year to year.
Survival is a risky journey for any squirrel: the arrival of new competitors or interruptions to the food supply can pose real challenges.
Their lives are adventures.
The word ‘adventure’ has two parts:
Ad means moving towards something.
Venture means attempting something dangerous or difficult, that is risky, with no guarantee of success.
Put the two together and you get the idea that the lives of all living organisms are risky journeys into the future, with no guarantee of success or survival.
If you like, you can think of life as:
organisms having adventures in time and space
- Think about the squirrels and the oak trees. In what ways are their lives adventures? [Hint: think about what the word adventure means.]