This question was asked in Biology and migrated to the Gardening SE yesterday. https://gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/65239/stages-of-leaf-drop-in-trees

As I note in a comment there: While this question could probably be answered here, it was focused more on tree biology: what causes a tree to drop leaves from one (arguably arbitrary) horizontal layer of its canopy.

I don't know how this question is off-topic for Biology? Is it because it's a yard tree, that makes it a gardening question? I imagine that if I had left out the setting of the tree, it would still be in Biology. I don't see ID questions about insects that appear in people's houses migrated to the Home Improvement SE.

  • $\begingroup$ I migrated it since you seemed to be concerned with the care of your tree. For a Biology question, I'd expect some biology background to the question rather than just an expression of curiosity. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 13, 2023 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Before asking, I did a web search with terms similar to this [Google Scholar search[(scholar.google.com/…). There aren't results relevant to my question. I understand why trees lose leaves. But I don't know what explains what I am seeing, thus my question. I can't give biology for something with which I don't have experience. If I had some idea of why, I would have said what I thought and asked for affirmation or otherwise. I only gave the context I did to indicate that the tree likely isn't dying or sick. $\endgroup$
    – John Polo
    Sep 13, 2023 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ I guess I'm still not understanding why you don't think your question is well-suited to the Gardening StackExchange, that seems like the best place to consult with people who would be familiar with what might be stressing your plant. If you were looking for a Biology answer I might expect mention of a signaling pathway: receptor proteins, messenger molecules, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 13, 2023 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ There are people who ask for animal IDs. They don't provide signal pathways. At the moment, there is a question about knuckle popping on Biology with no mention of anything related to molecules. I'm not expecting the tree to be stressed. It's getting to fall, and while it's early, it's been hot. I know what drought deciduous means and maybe it's related, but again, I would expect the whole canopy to be affected, not one horizontal layer. I don't know why a bird ID or knuckle popping is suited to Biology, but a question about (apparent) spatially selective leaf drop isn't. $\endgroup$
    – John Polo
    Sep 13, 2023 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I didn't ask for help caring for the tree (gardening), because I don't think there is a problem. I'm curious if this something about trees and leaf drop that I was not aware of (tree biology). $\endgroup$
    – John Polo
    Sep 13, 2023 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ I don't mean to suggest that every question here need be about signal pathways, but for your particular question I do think that things like causes of early leaf drop in a tree in your yard are best suited to a gardening context, where gardeners and landscapers are experts in care for plants and are a great resource for plant health issues. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Biologists and ecologists would certainly be interested in things like: proteins and molecular signaling pathways that lead to dropped leaves, biochemical changes in leaves that result, ecological-scale changes in leaves dropping, etc. I just thought your particular question was best at home with the people most equipped to answer it. If you re-post it here with background beyond what you already provided that clearly positions your question as at-home in a biology context, such as using references to scholarly work in biology, that's fine by me. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ Similarly, if you're asking why your house is tipping over on the Physics site, they're probably going to point you to a home improvement resource because, even though physics is certainly involved, it would appear you are looking for an answer that is more about building materials and foundations and not about drawing a force diagram of the various stresses and strains on a house, even though houses falling over is very much in the realm of physics. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. A moderator, using his experience, migrated your question to a SE site he thought more likely to provide an answer. You seem offended that a question you regard as science has been “downgraded” to something you perhaps regard as more mundane.

The moderator knows the site. He was trying to help. Do you want an answer or not?

For what it’s worth, the natural history identification side of SE Biology is a bit of an aberration. It is what many people regard as biology and it has a large audience. But it it is restricted to identification. And, although there is no prospect of removing it, in my opinion it just does not fit the SE model. How do you use the wisdom of myriad identifications of fleas to search for the one you found on your dog? Not by a text search, and SE doesn’t have a visual image search facility.

Addendum: ‘Migrated’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘off-topic’

The poster persists (in his comment on this answer) in declaring that his question was declared ‘off-topic’, and invokes Wikipedia and his biology text as evidence that ecology is a part of biology. Few would doubt that ecology is part of biology, but what I read regarding the migrated question on Gardening & Landscaping is:

This question was migrated from Biology Stack Exchange because it can be answered on Gardening & Landscaping Stack Exchange

Nothing about ‘off-topic’.

Something similar might occur with migration from Biology to Bioinformatics of Medical Sciences, or from Chemistry to Biology (for biochemical questions). All the moderator was trying to do was move the question to the SE group which was most likely to be frequented by people who could answer.

  • $\begingroup$ Based on the comments here that aren't mine and this answer, this forum seems to have an exclusive view of what biology is. My old Bio 101 text (I have seventh ed., now in its 12th ed.) includes ecology. macmillanlearning.com/college/us/product/… I checked Wikipedia and it also includes ecology as a part of biology, not just biomolecular topics en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology $\endgroup$
    – John Polo
    Sep 16, 2023 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnPolo See my addendum. It is not a question of a particular view that members of this SE community have, it is a question of what the interests and expertise are of those members. Like it or not. (And when I just did a search on SE Biology, I found 548 questions with the tag 'ecology'. So that is not the problem, and citing books and Wikipedia is irrelevant.) $\endgroup$
    – David
    Sep 16, 2023 at 17:20

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