2012 Spring Foray Lectures and Field Trips
"Great Lakes Endemics: What's so Special About the Straits Area" - Anton (Tony) Reznicek
In the grand scheme of plant geography, recently glaciated lowland temperate zones normally have essentially no endemic species; those plants confined to one small area. But the Great Lakes region is a striking exception, having a number of local endemics, mostly associated with the Great Lakes shores. Some regional plant communities, in fact, have these endemics as major elements. These endemics are linked to the Great Lakes in a special way. They are largely plants of extreme, usually open habitats (dunes, beaches, sand barrens, alvars (glaciated limestone plains), and rock outcrops) that were not only created by the interaction of the Great Lakes shores and the deglaciation of the landscape, but are suspected of having been more widespread in the past. In this array of habitats, the straits region is the heart of “endemic country.” The majority of endemics have ranges centered on the straits, and some have narrow ranges more or less confined to the Straits region. Some of the most striking examples are well known to botanists generally, including Houghton’s goldenrod, Pitcher’s thistle, Michigan monkey-flower, and the dwarf lake iris. Many however are much less familiar, either because they are extremely rare and local, or because they are little studied. Some of these include Gillman’s goldenrod and the Lakeside daisy. The number of endemics will only increase, as poorly studied, difficult groups are examined carefully with modern concepts and genetic tools. This includes not only difficult groups with “normal” species (like goldenrods and asters) but also the difficult apomictic complexes that modern systematics has yet to come to grips with like hawthorns, blackberries, and amelanchiers.
Tony Reznicek is Assistant Director, and Curator of Vascular Plants, University of Michigan Herbarium, co-author with the late Edward G. Voss of the Field Manual of Michigan Flora.
"Are there visible reasons for the demonstrable variation of UMBS forests?" - Dan Kashian
When we traverse a natural area and look at the plants, we are seeing only pieces. We can learn the plants and enjoy them for their individual beauty and wonder, but without knowing and understanding their ecological context – their place and role as parts of whole ecosystems – we will always struggle to understand their importance and function across landscapes. The way you think about things tends to be the way you see things, and the other pieces of ecosystems – climate, landforms, soils – are far harder to see and thus often ignored. In fact, landscape ecosystems are the “home place” of plant species and communities, and plants are their inseparable parts. Understanding forests as whole ecosystems allows us to begin to understand both why plants grow where they do, and why they begin to form large-scale patterns across landscapes. The remarkably diverse glacial geology, landforms, soils, vegetation, and disturbance history at UMBS make it the ideal laboratory to learn and teach about why the natural world is the way it is.
Dan Kashian is an Assistant Professor in Wayne State University, Detroit. He conducts research in forest and landscape ecology, studying the effects and interactions of human and natural disturbances on forest structure and ecosystem processes. He received his B.S and M.S. degrees in Natural Resources at the University of Michigan, his Ph.D. in Forest Ecology and Management at the University of Wisconsin, and did his postdoctoral research at Colorado State University. Dr. Kashian’s research in Michigan in part examines the dynamics of jack pine forests in the northern Lower Peninsula and the ecological effects of the emerald ash borer in the Metro Detroit area. His research program in the Rocky Mountains examines the effects of fire and insects on forest structure and function in lodgepole pine forests, and aspen dynamics in the face of changing disturbance regimes. UMBS's forest ecosystems are the field laboratory for his fall Terrestrial Ecology course.
"Living With Fire: New Perspectives on Fire in Our Ecosystem and Culture" - Jed Jaworski
We live in a fire dependent ecosystem; however globally 70% of our forests are degraded or declining due to the lack of natural fire conditions. A fundamentally new approach to understanding and accepting fire's role in our culture and ecosystem is needed. A nationally based program that addresses these issues called “Firewise” is now being embraced in Michigan. Jed Jaworski, with Michigan State University Extension’s “Firewise Communities Program”, will offer a presentation that illustrates fire's role in our forest/plant ecosystems, the growing wildfire threat to our communities, and share ways in which our forests health, home and community safety can be improved. Participants will learn how to create a Firewise garden.
Jed Jaworski has been with the Michigan State University Extension Staff for the past three years bringing the “Michigan Firewise Communities Program” to a nine county area of Northwest Michigan. Jed presently resides in Benzie County near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and has lived in the Northwest Michigan region for over 30 years working as a leader with many collaborative community based programs and projects. Jed has worked extensively in the emergency services field during that time, principally with Federal, State and Local firefighting entities as a wildland and/or structural firefighter, and State of Michigan Forest Fire Officer. His extensive, multi agency training and experience with wildland/urban interface fire in Michigan and across the country are now availed to this valuable nationally based program.
The Huron Valley Chapter wishes to thank all the people who will be giving evening presentations and leading field trips. We would also like to thank the Staff at the University of Michigan Biological Station for allowing us to host the 2012 Spring Foray at the Station. We especially thank Lisa Redmond, Housing Manager and Karie Slavik, Associate Director for all their kind assistance. The 2012 Organizing Committee: Irene Eiseman, Robert Ayotte, Bev Walters, Toni Spears, Ron Gamble, Sarah Nooden, and Larry Nooden have been meeting regularly to plan and set up this foray. We are very grateful for all the HVC members who have volunteered to help at the camp with all the jobs that need to be done to make the foray run smoothly.