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Old 07-30-2009, 08:26 PM   #1
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Default Woodlands Suffer Large-scale Biodiversity Loss

Woodlands Suffer Large-scale Biodiversity Loss
ScienceDaily (July 21, 2009) — New research shows that 21st century British woodlands are less distinctive than those of the early 20th century due to environmental change. Native woodland plants have re-organised over the last 70 years in response to increased soil fertility and loss of light related to increased canopy shading.

Woodlands Suffer Large-scale Biodiversity Loss
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The results indicated that, whilst the average number of plant species within each woodland remained the same, the difference between woodlands was significantly reduced. The researchers concluded that the woodlands that exist now are only a subset of the variety that could be seen in the 1930s. This process of increased similarity between ecological communities (groups of species in one site) is called ‘biotic homogenization.

Biotic homogenization has major implications for biodiversity conservation as it is related to the loss of unique species combinations leaving an impoverished version of the past variety of nature. Other documented observations of homogenization have been caused by the introduction of non-native species; however this study concluded that the impact of non-natives was negligible. The results demonstrate that homogenization can occur simply through a re-organisation of native species, potentially suggesting the phenomenon may be more widespread than previously imagined.
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:56 AM   #2
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Interestingly, it's a reduction of human intervention in British woodlands that the authors finger as the ultimate cause of the loss in diversity!
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Old 07-31-2009, 11:35 AM   #3
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Well, if there's been a gradual return to mature forests in Britain, there would be more shade, which means more forest plants in the forests and less field and clearing plants under the canopy. I'd love to see the diversity compared to that in British forests before the Industrial Revolution, or, while I'm wishing for the impossible, before the leveling of most of the forests on the island for acriculture.
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Old 07-31-2009, 12:05 PM   #4
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Hmmm. Traditional cultures were highly tuned to the forest environments - where they lived. Human activity as hunters - log house builders - and forest product users - even as agents of fire - keep the forests young and diverse. As the forests mature they shade out understories and tend toward a climax phase - which has a smaller number of characteristic species.

I think this is a natural process.
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:03 AM   #5
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Here near Chicago in the US, we have a population explosion of White-tailed Deer that are decimating the plants in our woods and savannas. Hunting, which kept their numbers in check for millennia, is not permitted in county forest preserves, and coupled with the explosive increase of exotic, invasive plant species and the suppression of fire for various reasons has resulted in massive loss of biodiversity in most of our local preserves. It's awful to see what's happened here in just the last 30 years.

Many of the local county forest preserve managers have taken an attitude that excludes humans from the natural equation, foolish at best. Most of our local plant communities, prairie and savanna in particular, depended on fire to maintain them, fire that was more often than not started deliberately by humans.

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Old 08-06-2009, 01:09 PM   #6
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White-tailed Deer are a considerable cause for concern in most areas of our Country.
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Old 08-06-2009, 02:43 PM   #7
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Woodland birds in the U.S. are in serious trouble as we chop forested areas into smaller and smaller plots and they become over run with invasive plants. When the forest goes, so do the birds who depend on it.
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:28 PM   #8
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Most of the Forests managed or for that matter left alone are a low species woodlot,, It's simply a matter of Geography. After the Glaciers rec ceded the Southern Forests re-seeded the Northern Forest a few miles each Season. These High-Species Forests used the wind and Blue-Jays,Bears,Chipmunks and Squirrels to move North. Once large swaths of this High Species Forest were lost to the Plow what remained was left to Climax or be disrupted,, Since this was such a slow progression the trees adapted and most managers really are not interested in having a truly species diverse Forest contain Beech, Oaks, Catalpa, Walnut and a half dozen or so Hardwoods and will be happy just having a healthy low-species Forest. Since Game Wardens manage for Turkey and Deer they always prefer high mast producing trees while the Forester is not interested in attracting Moths and low value trees like Box-Elder, Cottonwood, and Northern Catalpa.
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