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This Month in the Ohio Woods: May

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May is the month when, even in the city, one can feel the best of the forest. Our particular forest. The canopy has closed in, and everywhere is exuberant greenery, still lush with spring moisture. Life abounds upon itself. Every few feet you’ll meet the rarefied air of lilacs and early roses, and flowers that only make scent at night, and those that only make scent in the sun.

This month, I interviewed such a zephyr, Nancy Stranahan, one of the co-directors of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve. Nancy is an eloquent public speaker, and this month I asked her to hold forth on one of her favorite topics, the Eastern Temperate Broadleaf Forest.

Nancy encouraging us to fill up this
empty turtle shell with healthy Ohio

You might not be aware of this, but even as you walk down High Street, you are walking in a biome. There are thirteen terrestrial biomes on the planet Earth. Do you know the biome in which you live? If you were to tell a stranger about your home ecosystem, what would you describe? In recent studies, it has been suggested that U.S. test scores in bio-science smarts lag behind the rest of the world. In this age of ecological concern, are you ahead of the curve?

Well, get out your #2 pencils. Nancy and Bruce Lombardo (who works at the Arc’s Appalachian Forest Museum as well as the Hopewell Culture National Historical park) have written a quiz that might challenge you. What lies outside your door? Take this quiz and I’ll post the answers in a few days, in the form of my interview with Nancy. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by what you might not know about our home in Ohio. You’ll also find beautiful pictures taken by Arc staff, as well as CU regulars who joined us on last month’s Garlic Mustard Pick.

Rocky Fork Creek at the
Highlands Preserve,
photo by Josh Grossman

America’s Temperate Broadleaf Forest Quiz – A Nature Literacy Test!!

1. Can you name five types of temperate forest trees at the species level? For instance, just “hickory” doesn’t count. You must name a specific type of hickory.

2. The temperate broadleaf forests of the northern latitudes require what climate conditions?

a. HEAVY rainfall in at least NINE months of the year and NO months with lows averaging below freezing
b. MODERATE rainfall in EVERY month of the year and at least ONE month
c. LIGHT rainfall in at least NINE months of the year and at least THREE months averaging below freezing

CU’er Colleen wends her way
along the Rocky Fork during the
Garlic Mustard Pick

3. The temperate broadleaf forest is one of the world’s thirteen terrestrial biomes. In the northern hemisphere it is found in three primary locations. Can you name these three geographic regions?

4. Which of the earth’s thirteen terrestrial biomes is considered the most disturbed?

a. tropical rainforest
b. grasslands/savannas
c. temperate broadleaf forest
d. desert
e. tundra

5. Can you list the four species of birds that lived in eastern North America that became extinct since European settlement? –extra credit: One of these birds was estimated by an ornithologist to be so common that at one time, one bird out of every six on the planet was this species. Which one?

CU’er Drew picking Garlic
Mustard. Saucy gloves!

6. In five of the below groups of animals, the U.S boasts more than 30% of all the worl’ds species, primarily due to the amazing biodiversity of the eastern deciduous forest. Can you choose the FIVE groups? : — extra credit: for one of these groups, the U.S. actually holds over 50% of the world’s species. These creatures could be considered signature species of North America. Which group is it?

a. grasshoppers and crickets
b. butterflies
c. squirrels
d. song birds
e. cats
f. freshwater snails
g. crawdads
h. salamanders
i. freshwater mussels
j. aquatic stoneflies

Left: CU’er Manatee and kid picking Garlic Mustard, photo by Josh Grossman.
Right: Tim Pohlar pointing out mussel fossils in the dolomite walls of the Rocky Fork gorge

7. Surprisingly, there are many genera of organisms found in both eastern North America and eastern China that are not naturally found in Europe. All of the below genera have very similar species in both sister ecosystems, except ONE. Can you find ONE that is found in the eastern U.S., but NOT eastern China?

a. hemlock trees
b. witch hazel
c. pawpaws
d. mayapples
e. jack-in-the-pulpits
f. rhododendrons
g. ginsengs
h. trilliums
i. hickories
j. tulip trees
k. paddlefish
l. alligators
m. giant salamanders
n. flying squirrels

8. Most of our current native mammals originated in Eurasia, only to migrate to North America later. Can you find FOUR families of mammals who most likely originated in North America (even if they later went extinct here long ago)?

a. opposums
b. squirrels
c. cats
d. dogs, wolves and foxes
e. camels
f. mice and woodrats
g. horses
h. deer and buffalo

The Pyramid of Trilliums on Trail of the Ancients,
photo by Josh Grossman

9. Paleobotanists can often assign unidentified leaf fossils to prehistoric temperate forest ecosystems just by their appearance, because temperate tree leaves tend to possess distinctive characteristics. Three of the below leaf forms are especially distinctive to temperate climates. Can you choose the ONE that is NOT distinctive to temperate forests?

10. A person born in 1940 and dying in 2020 will likely see 7-10 tree species become functionally extinct in the eastern temperate forest. As far as we know to date, which ONE of the below species is LEAST likely to go extinct by 2020?

a. American chestnut
b. American elm
c. sugar maple
d. white ash
e. eastern hemlock

Left: Aquilegia flowers growing on the walls of the Rocky Fork gorge, photo by Josh Grossman
Right:Play of light at Barrett’s Rim, photo by Larry Henry

11. A famous quote is that: An intact temperate forest has thousands of organisms, only a few of which are trees. The largest chink of old-growth forest left in the forest heartland is in the Great Smoky Mountains, a region being actively bio-inventoried. Approximately how many multi-cellular species do scientists expect to find when they finish with the project?

a. 20,000
b. 50,000
c. 75,000
d. 100,000
e. 500,000

12. Does an old-growth forest really claim more species of plants and animals when compared to a healthy secondary forest? Can you find the ratio of OLD-GROWTH DIVERSITY to SECONDARY FOREST DIVERSITY?
a. 1:2
b. 1:1
c. 2:1
d. 3:1

Left: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, photo by Josh Grossman
Right: Ladyslipper orchid and moth, photo by Larry Henry

13. Approximately how many species of trees can the temperate forest of the eastern U.S. claim?

a. 85
b. 135
c. 240
d. 375
e. 490

14. Of the original temperate forest that once covered the eastern third of the United States, approximately how much of it remains as natural undisturbed old-growth forest? — Hint: ten percent of the Pacific Northwest rainforest remains intact as old-growth forest.

a. 0%
b. .005%
c. 5%
d. 14.5%
e. 21%

Rocky Fork Creek gorge

15. Unadulterated forest soils are living earth membranes teaming with organisms. Good healthy garden soils have a bacteria to fungus weight ratio of 1:1. Which ratio of bacteria to fungus can be expected in healthy eastern forest soil?

a. 1:1
b. 1:50
c. 1:100
d. 50:1
e. 100:1

16. The eastern temperate forest has exceptional diversity in what GROUP of organisms? Pick just ONE:

a. aquatic life
b. woody trees
c. birds
d. butterflies
e. grasses

17. THREE of the following groups of animals are found ONLY in North America, and are especially well-represented in the eastern deciduous forest. Can you find the ONE group that is NOT found ONLY in North America?

a. lungless salamanders
b. hellbenders and mudpuppies
c. darters (fish)
d. snapping turtles

18. In a healthy old temperate forest in the Smokies, the greatest vertebrate biomass (weight) per acre comes from…

a. salamanders
b. box turtles

c. white-tailed deer
d. wood frogs
e. birds

Good luck! Email me your answers ([email protected]), the highest score will win a free “Preserve Locally” T-shirt by Skreened!


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