Ancient Forest Murmers

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The turn of the New Year in the Redwood forest

With less than 48 hours without rain in the last month, the biological New Year is coming in with a bang!  Today the Klamath River is supposed to go four feet over flood stage, the highest level since 1997.  The winter-run fish will be able to go high upstream without any problems, a good omen for the future of salmonids.  Meanwhile, although the forest appears silent and sleeping, the roots and fungi are doing their thing, re-absorbing the needle cast of this autumn.

 

If you get a chance to take a walk through one of the old growth Redwood groves, take a look into the trailside duff.  Unlike forests in the drier interior, the Redwoods recycle nearly the entire leaf cast of the year, every year.  This means that all the nutrients of the site are in use all the time, little lost and only a little gained in a year, a near-perfect bioengineering feat.  No wonder that a Redwood forest has some of the highest biomass per acre in the world.

 
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