"A research team led by Michael Jenkins, associate professor of forest ecology, found that a 17-year-long Indiana Department of Natural Resources policy of organizing hunts in state parks has successfully spurred the regrowth of native tree seedlings, herbs and wildflowers rendered scarce by browsing deer."
|Earthworm Damage ???|
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~But now oddly enough, both of these issues involving Deer and Earthworms denuding forest floors of precious plant biodiversity are in direct conflict with the western forest ecologists who insist that a healthy forest must look like a clean manicured Park-like setting with nothing but a sterile understory.
Wildfire is a creator of Parks
Fire scientists fight over what Western forests should look like
"Conventional wildfire wisdom is generally the opposite. Many scientists say that dry Western forests were once open and park-like, with large, widely spaced trees and little undergrowth."Often times the above mindset will justify the use of prescribed or controlled burns for providing grassland meadows for deer and other foraging wildlife or domestic livestock, but almost always leave out the part about deer often preferring saplings, young shrubs and other herbaceous plants in the forest understory. They also will cite the often repeated romanticized Native American usage of fire to grow greener pastures and increasing wild herds of game animals. What is also often left out is the countless other reasons these folks set fires which had zero to do with ecology. But why is it that when the Native Americans used fire to obliterate forest understory that equates to something natural by Fire Ecologists and Forestry officials ? How is it that when Deer, Elk or Bison obliterate understories, this is considered unnatural ?
Of course forest deer, elk & bison will graze meadows, but they also love plants in forest understory growth. But making sweeping generalizations are common when attempting to justify something under the guise of ecology, when alternatively, such studies are bought and paid for by the usual big commercial Timber and Livestock interests. Again, if you want to truly understand and interpret any scientific research work, first you must follow the money from those who backed and funded the study in the first place. In a sense what happened to the Deer without fear of predators, is that they became sort of domesticated much like Yellowstone's Elk. In other words that stayed in one place, mowed vegetation to the soil and only then moved onward. Lack of predators does that to wild herbivores.
|image: Paul White|
Unfortunately many of these North American Researchers are not always on the same page as far as acting as colleagues working for the greater good and sharing information discovered. Many are so narrowly focused that they cannot see beyond their own little self-appointed niche of expertise on a subject. For example, there is far more to the deer culling then by means of hunting. There is also that "Fear of Predators", which influences deer behavour, habitat choice and distribution. In other words, lack of predators almost domesticates wild Deer and Elk which will also graze vegetation to the ground, but Wolves and Lynx give them their wild roaming instincts a kick start again. These things were never mentioned in the Purdue University hunting study [again follow the money], but again one wonders despite that funding was provided by the John S. Wright Endowment, if there were not others in the shadows with a vested interest in the research. Here is Constantine Alexander's blog article on east European Deer management:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Keep,watch, I have more news on fire ecology and seed germination coming up from my trip to the United States this past Spring and early Summer