Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Upper Midwest Forests Are Losing Diversity, Complexity

Date:
October 17, 2007
Source:
Iowa State University
Summary:
Forests in the nation's Upper Midwest have changed greatly since the time of the early settlers. And more changes may be coming. Researchers found that none of the areas surveyed - from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Michigan - have the same tree species makeup as they did 200 years ago.

Forests in the nation's Upper Midwest have changed greatly since the time of the early settlers. And more changes may be coming.

Related Articles


That's according to research done by Lisa A. Schulte, assistant professor in Iowa State University's department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management and her team of researchers.

"There's been a shift in the entire ecosystem," said Schulte, whose research has recently been published in the journal Landscape Ecology.

For the study, Schulte, along with Laura Merrick of Iowa State; David Mladenoff of the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Thomas Crow and David Cleland of the U.S. Forest Service, took forest composition information as described in the Public Land Survey from the mid-1800s and compared it with today's forests.

She found that none of the areas surveyed - from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Michigan - have the same tree species makeup as they did 200 years ago.

"This system was made up of largely conifers with some deciduous trees, and now we have the opposite," she said.

Conifers -- mostly pines and other evergreens -- have gotten more scarce while deciduous trees such as aspen, birch and maple have taken their place. Trees in today's forests also tend to be smaller.

"Our analysis shows a distinct and rapid trajectory of vegetation change toward historically unprecedented and simplified conditions," Schulte's published paper says.

"In addition to overall loss of forestland, current forests are marked by lower species diversity, functional diversity and structural complexity compared with pre-Euro-American forests."

The changes have come from several stresses on the ecosystem including pests, diseases, timber harvest and high populations of white-tailed deer, which feed on young trees, according to Schulte.

The effect of humans may be the most important factor in the shift.

"Human land use of forested regions has intensified worldwide in recent decades, threatening long-term sustainability," the report says.

"Primary effects include conversion of land cover or reversion to an earlier stage of successional development. Both types of change can have cascading effects through ecosystems; however, the long-term effects where forests are allowed to regrow are poorly understood."

What is understood, says Schulte, are the stresses the forest changes are having on wildlife, including birds. Schulte has looked at several species of warblers that have historically inhabited the area. According to her findings, the outlook for them doesn't look good.

"These birds don't have much habitat at present, compared to historical times," she said.

They are also an important and beautiful element of biodiversity, she said. They perform an important function in these forests by eating insects that can become forest pests.

Among natural resource professionals, the forests in the Upper Midwest had been suspected to be changing for some time, according to Schulte, but now there is evidence to support the theories.

"We knew that these kinds of changes had happened," she said. "But this is the first paper to really quantitatively look at it across the entire region. So, anytime you can quantitatively show something, it has a lot more power than simple conjecture."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Iowa State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Iowa State University. "Upper Midwest Forests Are Losing Diversity, Complexity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016181201.htm>.
Iowa State University. (2007, October 17). Upper Midwest Forests Are Losing Diversity, Complexity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016181201.htm
Iowa State University. "Upper Midwest Forests Are Losing Diversity, Complexity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016181201.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins