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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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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The "old Northwest" as Ohio was known prior to the Revolutionary War, was the land coveted by land speculators in the original 13 colonies........... By all accounts, gaining access to this land over the wishes of England was as much an impetus for the outbreak of the Revolutionary War as was "taxation without representation"..........King George of England had created the Demarcation line of 1763 after winning the FRENCH & INDIAN WAR against the French,,,,,,,,,,,This "border" was created to keep settlers moving West of the Appalachian Chain so as to allow these lands(Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, etc) to be in Indian ownership.........The idea was to minimize the Crown's chances of getting into war with the Indigenous peoples(not enough soldiers in the region and it would have been hugely expensive to beef up manpower there)..........Additionally, England wanted to concentrate the Colonies economic engine along the Atlantic Ocean, making the colonies dependent on England for sustained economic progress.............The farther West the colonists pushed, the less these folks would be dependent on England for their financial welfare...............Once the Revolution was won, American settlers pushed into the Ohio region and quickly cleared the land for farming,,,,,,,,,,,,,Just like with all the lands east of the Mississippi, Ohio was reduced to 10-30% forest cover by 1910.......Below you can read Ecologist Jil Deines in-depth analysis of "changes in the Ohio landscape and how human anthropogenic impacts have affected forest species composition and how Ohio's modern day forests are much simpler in their biological diversity than they were in the 18th century...........A further question I had for Jill was how this change in flora composition might be impacting the carnivore suite(Black bears, Bobcats, Eastern Coyotes) that currently occupy Ohio woodlands............While not Jill's focus, we will look to find information on this topic in the weeks ahead and share with all of you readers

From: Jill Deines []
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2016 4:56 PM
To: Meril, Rick
Subject: Re: A REQUEST

Hi Rick,

Glad you've found the paper interesting. Here's a link to the paper - you can scroll down for the text, or download the pdf from this site with the dropdown menu in the top right of the screen:

As to your questions, unfortunately I don't have expertise in the fauna side of the equation. They are quite interesting questions, but I don't know enough about life history differences in the mammals you reference to give an informed opinion.

All the best,
Hi Jill..............Enjoyed your article on the changes in Ohio woodland composition from pre-colonial
days to the present very interesting.
Did you postulate how the change in forest composition(e.g. loss of beech versus gain of oak) might have impacted the
Fauna composition of Ohio woodlands? Would Black Bears and Deer have been impacted(earlier on in the 18th century)
More or less favorably due to change in mast compostion?


The Proclamation Line of 1763 was an attempt
by King George of England to keep American 
Colonists out of Great Lakes, Ohio, Kentucky
and the lands west of the Appalachian Mtn spine 


Changes in Forest Composition in 
Ohio Between Euro-American 
Settlement and the Present
Jillian M. Deines 1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
Daniel Williams
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
Quercus Hamlin
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
Jason S. McLachlan
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
1Corresponding author: e-mail:


In Ohio Euro-American settlement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries subjected forests to large scale disturbances, including widespread clearance. In the subsequent two centuries, some of this land has reforested. To describe changes in forest composition since settlement, we used archival maps of U.S. Public Land Survey records to characterize forest composition just before large scale Euro-American settlement in 27 Ohio counties. We then compared this with modern composition patterns from the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Inventory Analysis.
Ohio Pre-colonial forests prior to 1788(

 Presettlement forests displayed strong spatial structure and regional differentiation. Counties in northwest Ohio were dominated by beech (Fagus grandifolia; mean relative abundance: 26.9%), whereas southeast Ohio counties were dominated by oaks(Quercus spp.; 50.1%). Modern forests, however, had weaker spatial structure and were dominated by oak species in both regions (24.0% and 22.4%, respectively). 
Ohio land clearing by colonists begins in earnest between 1788 and the 1830's

Overall, we found a decrease in previously dominant species and homogenization across the state. Partial Mantel tests indicated modern forest composition is more closely correlated with modern land use variation than environmental variables, suggesting that forest composition now is driven primarily by land use. Understanding factors influencing forest composition can inform projections of forest response to modern global change, including climate change and land use conversions.

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