The landscape ecology of Eastern White Pine in northern lower Michigan

TitleThe landscape ecology of Eastern White Pine in northern lower Michigan
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsYanca CA
Academic DepartmentSchool of Natural Resources and Environment
DegreeMaster of Science
Number of Pages176 pp.
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, MI

The occurrence of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) before and after European settlement has not been considered on a regional ecosystem basis, and as a result, ecological differences at multiple scales may be overlooked or undervalued. I used a landscape ecosystem approach to examine the occurrence of white pine. I characterized its occurrence from the broadest scales (>640 ha) to the finest (<640 ha), focusing on local ecosystems at UMBS in northern lower Michigan. Major differences in white pine occurrence were demonstrated among and within hierarchical broad-scale ecosystems, specifically showing that the upper Great Lakes region and northern lower Michigan had the greatest occurrence. By examining GLO records, remnant white pine stumps, and present-day vegetation for 16 landscape ecosystem types, I found that in local ecosystems, there was more white pine on the outwash physiographic system than on the moraine system both before and after settlement. Furthermore, the occurrence of white pine changed spatially among outwash plain landforms and ecosystem types between pre- and post-settlement time; white pine is returning fastest in outwash plain ecosystems that supported moderate amounts of white pine in presettlement time and were not severely burned following logging. It is returning much slower in outwash ecosystems that had large amounts of white pine in presettlement time and were severely burned by the post-logging fires. By examining barren patches in a severely burned ecosystem type, I found that these patches, devoid of overstory and understory, were probably caused by the severe burning of piles of white pine slash in the post-logging fires. Overall, the landscape ecosystem approach is useful for determining species patterns and dynamics across multiple spatial and temporal scales; e.g., white pine was most abundant in the upper Great Lakes region, northern lower Michigan, and outwash physiographic systems, and its occurrence changed after settlement. It is also useful in examining the legacy of presettlement forests and anthropogenic disturbances in its restoration following logging and post-logging fires.