November 2002

Delve deeper into hot topics featured in NGM's November issue with help from Resources. Click on a link, pick up a periodical, browse through a book, and explore!
The Book Guy
Grey TabMore Book Guy
GeographicaWho Knew?It's A Mola
Wood Tales
Who Knew
The Eastern Forest
Wood Tales

Four centuries ago a great forest stretched across more than 650 million acres (260 million hectares) of eastern North America, but it was heavily reduced by Native Americans seeking clear hunting grounds and European settlers in need of building materials and fuel. Today most of the ancient forest is gone. And even though extensive new forest has sprung up—largely from abandoned farmland—scientists believe the eastern forest can never return to what it used to be.

In general, forests are not static. They are constantly in flux and never reach a perfect equilibrium because, over time, different disturbances change their composition. For example, after the retreat of glaciers, many tree species eventually migrated north. In 1995 Rutgers University ecologist Emily Russell found that the decline of beech was not brought on by human impact but by a fungus. Other researchers attribute reduced numbers of hemlock to an aphid-like insect. And red maple and birch, which tend to do well in forest clearings, are springing up all over.

(Summarized from Joel Achenbach's National Geographic column, Who Knew?)

Web Links

Rough Draft
Writer Joel Achenbach's column is gaining a cult following. It takes a sometimes humorous, sometimes eye-squinting, but always intelligent look at today's headlines, personal interests, and the little life-annoyances we all live with.

America's River

Take a look at Joel's recent piece for the Washington Post on "America's River," the Potomac, and its remarkable history. Science
More science news from Joel's other home, the Washington Post.

Harvard Forest
Harvard Forest is an important center for research and education in forest biology. Visit this site to discover what scientists are finding out about how and why forests change.

Forest Census
Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) is the nation's forest census. Find out how much forest there is, what it looks like, whether we are gaining or losing species, how quickly trees are growing, dying, and being harvested, and how the forest ecosystem is changing over time.

Climate Change Atlas
Check out this site for climate change scenarios and distribution maps for 80 forest tree species of the Eastern United States.

Free World Map

Berger, John J. Understanding Forests. Sierra Club Books, 1998.

Walker, Laurence C. The North American Forests: Geography, Ecology, and Silviculture. CRC Press, 1999.

Woodwell, George M. Forests in a Full World. Yale University Press, 2001

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