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Ecologists Document the Decline of the American Oak

The Case of the Vanishing Oaks, By Virginia Morell, ScienceNOW Daily News

  • “When Lewis and Clark crossed America’s heartland, they tramped through wide swaths of oak forests. But today, the oaks are in decline, and as they vanish so too does a whole coterie of native herbaceous plants critical to forest ecosystems, according to a unique analysis, which lays the blame on efforts to suppress fires. “We’re losing the plants that characterized a rich and diverse ecosystem that existed here for thousands of years,” says Thomas Rooney, an ecologist at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and one of the study’s authors.”
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