Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Science of Yellow Snow

20.06.2013
New research from wildlife ecologists at Michigan Technological University indicates that white-tailed deer may be making the soil in their preferred winter homes unfit to grow the very trees that protect them there.

Bryan Murray, a PhD candidate at Michigan Tech, and two faculty members, Professor Christopher Webster and Assistant Professor Joseph Bump, studied the effects on soil of the nitrogen-rich waste that white-tailed deer leave among stands of eastern hemlock, which are among their favorite wintering grounds in the harsh, snowy climate of northern Michigan. Webster and Bump are on the faculty of Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

They compared eastern hemlock stands where deer congregated to stands where deer were fenced out and found a strong relationship between the amount of soil nitrogen from the deer’s waste products and the kinds of plants that flourished there. Their research results were reported online in the journal Ecology, published by the Ecological Society of America.

“Altering the nitrogen availability in a hemlock stand may affect its ability to continue functioning as a deeryard by changing the types of plants that grow there,” said Murray, first author on the journal article titled “Broadening the ecological context of ungulate-ecosystem interactions: the importance of space, seasonality, and nitrogen.” For example, he said, “high inputs of nitrogen may hasten the transition of hemlock stands to hardwood species that provide scant winter cover.”

During cold northern winters, deer seek out stands of evergreens with dense crowns, such as eastern hemlock, northern white cedar and balsam fir. Such stands of trees are known as “deeryards.” They are thought to provide refuge from deep snow and blustery winds and to help deer hide from predators, Murray explained.

Deer instinctively seek deeryards, but their choice of location is knowledge passed from mother to fawn. Thus deeryards that are traditional favorites can harbor 100 deer or more per square mile, creating hotspots of high-nitrogen-content waste.

Long ago, before logging enabled the white-tailed deer to move further and further north and before the deer population explosion more recently experienced, the ecosystem stayed balanced because there were plenty of deeryards and fewer deer. Now more deer are crowding into less winter cover, shifting the dynamic balance of nature.

The Michigan Tech research demonstrates that the relationship of deer to their habitat is more complex than just the plants they eat, Webster said. “Our hope is that by better understanding the links between habitat use and spatial patterning of resources and plants in survivng hemlock stands we can identify sustainable management strategies for this critical resource.”

“It was fascinating to discover such complex interactions, which have implications for sustainable management, in a seemingly simple ecosystem,” Murray added.

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Bryan Murray
bdmurray@mtu.edu; 740-497-6296

Bryan Murray | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.mtu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>