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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Hemlock forests which are under siege from the asian Wooly Adelgid sucking insect are now faced with a new threat....................Our bloated Whitetail Deer population is overloading hemlock deeryards with an overload of nitrogen from their urine.............Hemlocks are historically slow growers and the "vitamin-laced" nitrogen from the Deer pee stimulates the growth of other tree and plant species(e.g Sugar Maples), resulting in baby hemlocks being outcompeted...................................Pumas and Wolves needed back in the landscape to place a check on deer.

Too much deer pee changing northern forests

By Becky Oskin;
  • White-tailed deer congregate under evergreens like northern white cedar for protection from winter weather, creating nitrogen hot spots that change the plant community. (Michigan Technological University)

The booming deer population in the northern United States is bad for the animal's beloved hemlocks, a new study finds.
During Michigan winters, white-tailed deer converge on stands of young hemlocks for protection from winter chill and predators. The same deer return every year to their favorite clumps of the bushy evergreens, called deeryards. The high concentration of deer in a small space saturates the soils with nitrogen from pee, according to a study published online in the journal Ecology.

While deer pee can be a valuable source of nitrogen, a rare and necessary nutrient for plants, some deeryards are now too rich for the hemlocks to grow.

"Herbivores like deer interact with the ecosystem in two ways. One is by eating plants and the other is by excreting nutrients, said Bryan Murray, an ecologist and doctoral student at Michigan Tech University. 

Hemlock grove shelters deer in Winter

Urine can be a really high nitrogen resource, and hemlock can be out-competed by other species in really high nitrogen environments."

Slow-growing hemlocks prefer low-nitrogen soil, and the prolific pee results in nitrogen-loving species like sugar maple outgrowing the hemlocks, the researchers found.

Hemlocks are already struggling to recover from logging and other ecosystem changes that reduced their numbers to 1 percent of pre-settlement populations in some parts of Michigan, Murray said. "At the moment, it's difficult to find hemlock stands where there are saplings in the understory that are going to replace the hemlocks in the overstory when they die," he told OurAmazingPlanet. The lack of regeneration could be due to a number of issues, but deer overpopulation is a factor, he added.

the white mass of the exotic Wolly Adelgid sucking on Hemlock

With the reduced hemlock cover available for deer, the booming white-tailed deer population means more deer crowd into the remaining forest. The researchers found more than 100 deer per square mile in popular deeryards. And young hemlocks have a tough time recovering from the deer nibbling and browsing.
In the eastern United States, an invasive sap-sucking bug called the adelgid is also killing off hemlocks.

"The Upper Midwest represents one of the last strongholds of hemlocks," Murray said.

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