One species with a close ecological relationship to pinyon pine is the pinyon jay. Pinyon jays consume large quantities of pinyon pine seeds when they become available in late summer and early autumn. When seeds are plentiful, individual jays will cache thousands of them for use in the winter and spring nesting season. Many of these seeds are not recovered and, depending on where they were placed, will germinate and contribute to expansion into new areas or infilling of existing stands.
Surprisingly, this intelligent, social bird has seen a steady decline in their rangewide population during the same period of contemporary woodland expansion. To gain a better understanding of how pinyon jays use the woodland, how they select cache sites, and how they might they facilitate the expansion and infill of pinyon pine stands, Forest Service scientists used Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis techniques to describe where jays cached pinyon pine seeds and what structural features appear to be important for cache site selection.