holyoutlaw: (me meh)

Some Trees Use Less Water Amid Rising Carbon Dioxide, Paper Says
[New York Times, might be behind pay wall]

After collating data from 21 different sites, gathered over 20 years, there is an indication that some trees are using less water to achieve a given amount of growth, because there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As one of the persons quoted in the article says, this is the first word, not the last, on this issue.

The article refers to a couple things that I’ve come across recently (not explicitly, but they caught my eye).

First, the “invisible present” and long-term ecological research. This data was gathered over 20 years, and some people are saying that that’s not long enough to verify the trend. This shows why we need long-term research, and why it needs to be funded.

Second, assisted migration. The article refers to trees at the edge of their ranges struggling, but trees (it doesn’t say if they’re the same trees or different species) in the middle of their range doing well. I consider assisted migration an open question, even though I go back and forth on it. Assisted migration will be of limited help, and mostly for large, charismatic species that are more or less on the human scale (ie, visible to the naked eye). But there probably are trees that could be moved, either into new areas entirely or into refugia.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Can we please stop drawing trees on top of skyscrapers?

Putting trees on skyscrapers is the trendy architectural design element of the moment. Here is why, in detail, it’s a bad idea.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

When Trees Die, People Die

More of the evidence of a connection between trees and health. The exact cause remains an intriguing mystery, but the connection is obvious.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Looking Back: 2012’s “Top 10” Tree Stories

A summary of stories related to urban forest and green infrastructure, good and bad.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring
Richard Preston

Studying the tree canopy of redwoods is a new field, developed in the last twenty-five years or so. The Wild Trees chronicles that development, focusing on the personalities of the people driven to search for the tallest trees in the world, and then to climb them to see what’s up there.

The personalities are interesting, it’s true. Finding the tallest tree in the world isn’t enough of a driving interest to receive funding, so the initial research is done on the weekends by a convenience store clerk. However, his persistence in this search brings him into contact with others, such as Stephen Sillett, and together they discover a completely new world.

It used to be thought that forest canopies were just the leaves and branches of the trees, maybe some bird nests, but nothing very interesting. Just about every canopy, at every level, is a startlingly diverse ecosystem. Preston compares the experience of the original tree climbers to that of Jacques Cousteau, discovering a new world with his scuba equipment.

A redwood tree might looks like one straight stem from the ground, but a tall tree will send out several trunks as it reaches its height. And if a windstorm breaks off one of those leaders or sub-trunks, new trunks sprout in its place. The broken trunk might get caught in branches and never reach the ground. Over time, the new growth around it will fuse with it. Dirt accumulates in the joins of the multiple trunks; in this dirt, bryophytes and epiphytes start to grow. And, somehow (the mechanism isn’t known yet) copepods from the ocean live up there, as well as salamanders.

Considering how patchy the redwood forest remnants are, it’s a little staggering to think what what the canopy might have been before logging. How much more massively complex the redwood canopy must have been, when it could have stretched unbroken for miles. Even so, it’s possible to walk from tree to tree in some cases. Wisely, the exact locations are kept secret and only a few biologists and tree scientists know them.

One of the main discoveries of people researching possibly the largest organisms on this planet involves one of the smallest organisms: The role that a small lichen, Lobaria, plays in the fertility of the canopy and the forest as a whole. The lichen is prominent in very old Pacific Northwest forests, but it can take thousands of years for it to grow and spread through a canopy. This means that even relatively old forests (a few hundred years, and currently considered old growth) might not yet be at their ecological climax.

The book is described as “narrative nonfiction,” which means Preston uses some of the story telling tools of fiction to build an arc. And there were times when I felt genuine tension in reading the book. I can guess the general circumstances of even a very well-done thriller, but there were times reading this book I had no idea how an event would turn out. We’re carried through the lives, loves, and losses of all the people involved in this research.

Having said that, I’d have liked the book to focus more on the science and a little less on the personalities. At least a guide for further reading (or viewing — there have been TV documentaries about Sillett and canopy research). I liked that scientific research isn’t all glamorous (particularly anything involving Australian leech forests) and that scientists sometimes have messy personalities. But I would have liked more about the canopy itself.

Bonus! Here is a TED talk by Richard Preston about climbing in the redwoods.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (Default)

Liberated Western Red Cedars

I went to North Beach Park this afternoon and ran into one of my master forester cohorts, collecting twigs for winter ID practice. I talked him into a difficult traverse with me, down the slope of the headwaters bowl to liberate what I thought was a single Western Red Cedar. It turned out to be a few, all covered with various weeds and the smaller ones being shaded out by salmonberry. So we “liberated” them. The tallest one (in the foreground) is big enough to survive mountain beaver attention. The one he has his hand on (you can’t really see it) might provide a nice snack.

What looked like had happened to us is a red alder had fallen, taking a mid-canopy Red Cedar with it. These were living branches that had survived the fall, reorienting and establishing themselves.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

First tree I’ve planted, in Carkeek Park. An Oregon Ash.

Oregon Ash

I wonder if the mountain beavers have eaten it yet?

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.


holyoutlaw: (Default)

June 2017

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