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Forest ecology

Winter 2014

The Scrambled Natural World of Global Warming, A Travelogue

Jesse A. Logan ’77 PhD is hiking up a mountainside in Yellowstone National Park and walking back in time. He starts at 8,600 feet above sea level, in a forest thick with the scent of fir and lodgepole pine, and with almost every spry step, the scenery changes. There’s an understory of grouse whortleberry, then accents of mountain bluebells and higher still, the whitebark pine, one of the oldest organisms of the Interior West.

Finally, the vegetation gives way to large swatches of scree. Logan’s 70-year-old legs have gone up 2,000 feet and back more than 10,000 years, from the lush vegetation of the twenty-first … » More …

forest near Mt St Helens
Spring 2013

The forgotten forest

Early successional forests, the stage following a major disturbance such as fire, windstorm, or harvest, have typically been viewed in terms of what is missing. Considered by the forest industry as a time of reestablishment or “stand initiation,” these early successional forests have been studied from the perspective of plant-community development and the needs of selected animals. Neither view fully grasps the diverse ecological roles of the early successional stage, argue WSU forest ecologist Mark Swanson and colleagues in a 2011 paper in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Forest management throughout the twentieth century focused at first on wood production and later … » More …