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Plant Invasions Associated with Change in Root Zone Microbial Community Structure and Diversity. -- Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Posted on November 17, 2020 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The importance of plant-microbe associations for the invasion of plant species have not been often tested under field conditions. The research sought to determine patterns of change in microbial communities associated with the establishment of invasive plants with different taxonomic and phenetic traits. Three independent locations in Virginia, USA were selected. One site was invaded by a grass (Microstegium vimineum), another by a shrub (Rhamnus davurica), and the third by a tree (Ailanthus altissima). The native vegetation from these sites was used as reference. 16S rRNA and ITS regions were sequenced to study root-zone bacterial and fungal communities, respectively, in invaded and non-invaded samples and analyzed using Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology (QIIME). Though root-zone microbial community structure initially differed across locations, plant invasion shifted communities in similar ways. Indicator species analysis revealed that Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) closely related to Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Ascomycota increased in abundance due to plant invasions. The Hyphomonadaceae family in the Rhodobacterales order and ammonia-oxidizing Nitrospirae phylum showed greater relative abundance in the invaded root-zone soils. Hyphomicrobiaceae, another bacterial family within the phyla Proteobacteria increased as a result of plant invasion, but the effect associated most strongly with root-zones of M. vimineum and R. davurica. Functional analysis using Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt) showed bacteria responsible for nitrogen cycling in soil increased in relative abundance in association with plant invasion. In agreement with phylogenetic and functional analyses, greater turnover of ammonium and nitrate was associated with plant invasion. Overall, bacterial and fungal communities changed congruently across plant invaders, and support the hypothesis that nitrogen cycling bacteria and functions are important factors in plant invasions. Whether the changes in microbial communities are driven by direct plant microbial interactions or a result of plant-driven changes in soil properties remains to be determined.


Citation: Rodrigues RR, Pineda RP, Barney JN, Nilsen ET, Barrett JE, Williams MA (2015) Plant Invasions Associated with Change in Root-Zone Microbial Community Structure and Diversity. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0141424. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141424


Editor: Jian Liu, Shandong University, CHINA


Received: June 10, 2015; Accepted: October 8, 2015; Published: October 27, 2015


Copyright: © 2015 Rodrigues et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited


Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files. Data are submitted under Biosamples of SAMN04099948 - SAMN04099953, BioProject PRJNA296487, accession SRP064489 at NCBI (SRA)

Indexed for PLOS One by Dragonfly Kingdom Library


Designing vegetation barriers for urban air pollution & climate change abatement: a practical review for appropriate plant species selection. -- Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Posted on November 17, 2020 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Designing vegetation barriers for urban air pollution abatement: a practical review for appropriate plant species selection

Yendle Barwise & Prashant Kumar 
npj Climate and Atmospheric Science volume 3, Article number: 12 (2020) Cite this article

13k Accesses

7 Citations

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Vegetation can form a barrier between traffic emissions and adjacent areas, but the optimal configuration and plant composition of such green infrastructure (GI) are currently unclear. We examined the literature on aspects of GI that influence ambient air quality, with a particular focus on vegetation barriers in open-road environments. Findings were critically evaluated in order to identify principles for effective barrier design, and recommendations regarding plant selection were established with reference to relevant spatial scales. As an initial investigation into viable species for UK urban GI, we compiled data on 12 influential traits for 61 tree species, and created a supplementary plant selection framework. We found that if the scale of the intervention, the context and conditions of the site and the target air pollutant type are appreciated, the selection of plants that exhibit certain biophysical traits can enhance air pollution mitigation. For super-micrometre particles, advantageous leaf micromorphological traits include the presence of trichomes and ridges or grooves. Stomatal characteristics are more significant for sub-micrometre particle and gaseous pollutant uptake, although we found a comparative dearth of studies into such pollutants. Generally advantageous macromorphological traits include small leaf size and high leaf complexity, but optimal vegetation height, form and density depend on planting configuration with respect to the immediate physical environment. Biogenic volatile organic compound and pollen emissions can be minimised by appropriate species selection, although their significance varies with scale and context. While this review assembled evidence-based recommendations for practitioners, several important areas for future research were identified.

Air pollution is a momentous global issue, the greatest environmental hazard to human health, and responsible for approximately one in every nine deaths each year1. It is of particular concern in urban areas, where elevated pollutant concentrations and potential sufferers converge2,3,4. This is intensified by projected global population growth5, increased urbanisation1 and impacts of climate change on atmospheric conditions and weather variability6.

Beyond the myriad policy, technological and cultural changes required for the curtailment of emissions at the source, the mitigation of ongoing ambient air pollution is essential in order to reduce human exposure7. Appropriate green infrastructure (GI) is broadly recognised as one of several promising passive control systems for air pollution, and the literature detailing the positive effects that plants and vegetation may have on air quality is substantial (Table 1). Gallagher et al.8 highlight the concomitant benefits of employing porous (green) as opposed to solid barriers (including walls and parked cars) to mitigate air pollution where possible. Numerous studies involving GI corroborate its cost-effective multifunctionality by virtue of the variety of ecosystem services that may be achieved or enhanced, including ambient cooling and microclimate regulation (which bears additional gains in reducing local energy consumption and related emissions)9,10, storm water attenuation9, improved mental and physical health11,12,13,14,15, biodiversity support9, and climate change mitigation and adaptation16,17,18. This latter aspect is particularly significant with regards to air quality. In an article on the intricate, intertwined relationship between air pollution and climate change, Tibbetts6 suggests that combating one often supports abatement of the other. .....

Indexed for Nature.com by Dragonfly Kingdom Library

The Benefits of Trees: Public Health and Social Benefits. -- Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Posted on November 16, 2020 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Benefits of Trees

Public Health and Social Benefits

Clean air: Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog, enhancing a community’s respiratory health. The urban canopy directly contributes to meeting a city’s regulatory clean air requirements.


Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, and reduces stress, while improving the quality of life in our cities and towns.


Urban landscaping, including trees, helps lower crime rates.

Studies show that urban vegetation slows heartbeats, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes brain wave patterns.

Girls with a view of nature and trees at home score higher on tests of self-discipline.

Environmental Benefits

Climate change: Trees sequester carbon (CO2), reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Read more about trees and climate change here.


Energy conservation:


A tree is a natural air conditioner. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size, residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.

Acting as a natural air-conditioner, Palo Alto’s lush canopy ensures that summer temperatures are at least 6 to 8 degrees lower than in comparable neighborhoods without trees.

Tree windbreaks can reduce residential heating costs 10-15%; while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs 20-50%.

Water filtration and retention: Urban forests promote beneficial water quality and reduce storm water management costs.


Palo Alto street and park trees can intercept 135 million gallons of rainwater. Trees capture and slow rainfall and their roots filter water and recharge the aquifer. Trees reduce storm water runoff, which reduces flooding, saves city storm water management costs, decreases the flow of polluted water into the Bay, and protects the banks of the San Francisquito Creek.

Wildlife habitat: Trees provide important habitats for numerous bird, insect and animal species.


Economic Benefits

Communities and business districts with healthy tree-cover attract new residents, industry, and commercial activity.


Homes landscaped with trees sell more quickly and are worth 5% to 15% more than homes without trees.

Where the entire street is tree-lined, homes may be worth 25% more.

Trees enhance economic stability by attracting businesses; people linger and shop longer when trees are present.

Where a canopy of trees exists, apartments and offices rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate; workers report more productivity and less absenteeism.

Tree Benefit “Fun Facts”:

Trees provide inviting and cool areas for recreation and relaxation such as playgrounds and parks.

Trees create a tapestry of color and interesting form that changes throughout the year.

The color green is calming and relieves eye strain.

Trees screen unattractive views and soften the harsh outline of masonry, metal, asphalt, steel and glass.

People walk and jog more on shaded streets, which encourages interaction with neighbors and improves the sense of community.

Trees absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40 percent.

..... Indexed for Canopy.org


Spiritual Recovery: The Role of Natural Soundscape in Nature-Based Rehabilitation: A Patient Perspective. -- Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Posted on November 8, 2020 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

The Role of Soundscape in Nature-Based Rehabilitation: A Patient Perspective

Gunnar Cerwén, Eja Pedersen, and Anna María Pálsdóttir


Additional article information



Nature-based rehabilitation (NBR) has convincing support in research, yet the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The present study sought to increase understanding of the role of soundscapes in NBR, an aspect paid little attention thus far. Transcribed interviews with 59 patients suffering from stress-related mental disorders and undergoing a 12-week therapy programme in the rehabilitation garden in Alnarp, Sweden, were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenology Analysis (IPA). Described sounds were categorised as natural, technological or human. The results showed that patients frequently referred to natural sounds as being part of a pleasant and “quiet” experience that supported recovery and induced “soft fascination”. Technological sounds were experienced as disturbing, while perception of human sounds varied depending on loudness and the social context. The study further uncovered how sound influenced patients’ behaviour and experiences in the garden, through examination of three cross-theme dimensions that materialised in the study; sound in relation to overall perception, sound in relation to garden usage, and increased susceptibility to sound. The findings are discussed in relation to NBR; the need for a more nuanced understanding of susceptibility to sound among people suffering from mental fatigue was identified and design considerations for future rehabilitation gardens were formulated.


Keywords: garden therapy, soundscape, design, health, mental restoration, nature-based rehabilitation, soft fascination, horticulture therapy, therapeutic landscape

1. Introduction

1.1. Soundscape Research

Research on soundscapes—as in the study of the experience of the acoustic environment [1,2]—was first initiated in the late 1960s [3,4]. In recent years, there have been substantial developments in the field [5,6]. There is now an increased understanding of the contextual experience of sound, and also of how the sonic environment can be influenced in a strategic manner to improve the overall soundscape. Previously, such environmental considerations had been limited to a “defensive” approach [7,8]. In a defensive strategy, the main intention is to protect human beings from unwanted sounds (noise). However, while the defensive strategy has been a dominant and useful approach in environmental planning for many years, it has failed to pay attention to the actual experience of sound. In the opposite and more positive approach to sound, sometimes referred to as “offensive”, the focus shifts from noise to consideration of what people want to hear. These approaches, together with a third (“creative” approach), may be used interchangeably in order to improve the sonic environment [9]. In such a holistic soundscape approach, consideration of unwanted sounds (noise abatement) is combined with consideration of wanted sounds for improved experience and/or masking effects [10]. For instance, soundscapes can be influenced through noise screening [11], localisation of functions [12], creation of biotopes for birds [13], consideration of walking material [14], introduction of water features [15,16], rustling vegetation [17] or sound art [8,18].


The relationship between sound and mental health has mainly been studied from the perspective of the adverse effects of noise on humans, either directly or through stress reactions induced by negative associations [19,20,21]. There are clear indications of an enhanced risk of impaired mental health after long-term noise exposure. It has been suggested that greenery could mitigate the negative impact, so that the sound is perceived as less annoying if green urban areas are provided. Several studies have found that this is the case sometimes, but not always [22,23]. The provision of sound in green environments intended for psycho-physiological restoration purposes and whether this has an impact on the link between the physical environment and possible curative effects is less well studied, but an increasing number of recent studies point to such connections. In an investigation in which subjects were exposed to a psychological stressor [24], it was shown that stress recovery was faster during exposure to nature sounds at 50 dBA rather than to three different types of noises (40–80 dBA). Similar findings were reported in a study [25] where subjects exposed to virtual reality nature (including sound) recovered faster after stress than subjects exposed to virtual reality without sound. It has also been shown that sounds perceived as pleasant (most typically birdsong, music and ocean sounds) can reduce skin conductance level for subjects at rest [26]. In healthcare, studies have shown that sounds of nature from speakers can have positive effects during difficult procedures, reducing stress and anxiety [27,28] as well as experienced pain [29].


In order to understand the experiential dimension of sound, it is necessary to go beyond measurements of sound pressure levels [9]. Soundscape research provides a platform for discussing perception of sound in terms other than annoyance, as well as opening up new possibilities for design and management of sounds. A soundscape includes all types of sounds in an environment, with emphasis on how they are experienced in a context [1,5,6].


1.2. Nature-Based Rehabilitation and Stress

Problems relating to mental health are estimated to be among major reasons for work disabilities globally [30,31], and can have severe negative effects on everyday lifestyle [32] and in the long run lead to physical and mental depletion [33]. There have been reports that nature and nature-like environments can assist in mental recovery [34]. It has also been shown that by spending time in natural environments, concentration ability and directed attention can be improved [35,36], and perceived stress relieved [37].


In nature-based rehabilitation (NBR), it has been found that sensory stimuli of outdoor nature experiences can play an important role in treatment of stress-related mental conditions such as exhaustion disorder [35,38,39,40]. Caregivers in NBR claim that the connection to nature through sensory impressions can help patients “open up” to treatment [38]. The role of sensory experience in NBR could possibly also be related to the notion of ‘soft fascination’ in attention restoration theory (ART) [41], an important form of experience that is useful for mental recovery. According to ART, soft fascination occurs when people experience things without a focus or specific demands. This recovery allegedly occurs in nature or nature-like environments, where the subject is free and able to discover, recover and relax.


A less well studied sensory input in the NBR context is sound, although this was indicated to be a potentially important aspect in a semi-structured interview study conducted previously with 59 former participants at Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden, where the role of nature as a supportive environment was explored [42]. A new aspect of NBR for individuals recovering from stress-related mental disorders was identified, i.e., social quietness, referring to the need for solitary encounters with nature without disturbance by others. Perception of sound in the rehabilitation garden was not a specific topic in that study, but the participants mentioned sound as an important hindering or supportive factor in a therapeutic environment. This finding suggested the need for a follow up analysis, in which sound was given more thorough attention.


The aim of the present study, consequently, is to examine the role of sound in NBR for individuals with stress-related mental disorders and to identify essential aspects for the future design of restorative spaces for mental recovery. .... https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5201370/

Remnants of Gondwana: Early Humans Were Forest Dwellers

Posted on November 8, 2020 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The idea that early humans spent most of their time in and among trees has been boosted by evidence from a cave site in South Africa. This contradicts the standard view, which envisages early hominids in Africa running about on dry, grassy plains in the heat of the midday sun.


The new picture is emerging from a reconstruction of the environment in the Makapan Valley, northeast of Potgietersrus in northern Transvaal. R. J. Rayner and colleagues of the University of Witwaters-rand say that about 3 million years ago the Makapan area was much wetter and greener than it is today; the valley was shallower, the soil was more fertile and there was no pronounced dry season. The valley had significant patches of subtropical forest and thick bush rather than savannah, say the researchers (Journal of Human Evolution, vol 24, p 219).


In this habitat lived a lightly built or ‘gracile’ australopithecine called Australo-pithecus africanus. Remains of perhaps a dozen individuals have been found in the Limeworks Cave, or Makapansgat. More are known from another Transvaal site called Sterkfontein to the southwest, near Krugersdorp. The Makapansgat deposits are hard to date but australopithecines are thought to be about 3 million years old.


A. africanus is closely related to Lucy and her kin (Australopithecus afarensis), the gracile hominids found in the East African Rift Valley at Hadar, at Laetoli in Tanzania and elsewhere. In the past decade, researchers have shown that the East African rift was also lush with vegetation when the australopithecines lived there. For instance, the habitat at Hadar and Laetoli was a mixture of forest, closed woodland and grassland around the Rift lakes, with forest on the nearby mountains.



Although Lucy lived around 3 million years ago, making her a contemporary of the earliest of the southern African gracile australopithecines, the A. afarensis group lived at least 4 million years ago. The famous footprint trails left at Laetoli – clear evidence of fully upright walking – are 3.6 million years old.


Unlike the East African discoveries, all the southern gracile australopithecines were found in caves, but these hominids were probably not cave-dwellers. Research at the University of Witwatersrand and the Transvaal Museum suggests that the animals and the hominids found at Makansgat were the prey of hyenas and large cats that used the cave as a den. The remains of hundreds of thousands of animal in the cave deposits represent leftovers.

Indexed for New Scientist by Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Spiritual Recovery: / Remnants of Gondwana: Forget small nomadic tribes and pristine jungle: the southern Amazon was likely covered in a network of large villages and ceremonial centers before Columbus. -- Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Posted on November 8, 2020 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

PUBLISHED March 27, 2018


Before Spanish invaders conquered South America, sparse groups of nomadic people clustered around the Amazon River, leaving the surrounding rain forest pristine and untouched.


Or did they?


New research suggests a very different story—an Amazonian region peppered with rain forest villages, ceremonial earthworks, and a much larger population than previously thought.


The research, funded in part by the National Geographic Society and published today in the journal Nature Communications, challenges a common perception of the pre-Columbian Amazon rain forest as sparsely populated. That perception has endured despite 16th-century accounts of large, interconnected villages that go against modern assumptions.


“Many people have the image that it’s an untouched paradise,” says Jonas Gregorio de Souza, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter who collaborated on the project. Much of the region is unexplored and covered in dense forest, so it’s been inaccessible to archaeologists interested in learning more about life away from the mighty river.


Until now. The team used satellite imagery to try to identify ancient geoglyphs—earthworks likely used for ceremonies—in previously unexplored parts of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.


Then, armed with the coordinates of likely geoglyphs, they headed to the field—sometimes literally, since large swaths of land in the region are used for agriculture. Sure enough, each of the 24 targets they visited was the real deal. “Everything made sense,” says de Souza. “We knew we were in a special area.”


At one site, the team went deeper. They located ceramics and charcoal suggesting a village that dated to about 1410 A.D.


Back in the office, they used their findings to predict where other sites might be located, creating a computer model that took everything from elevation to soil pH to precipitation into account. It showed that people would likely have built geoglyphs in higher-elevation areas with big variations in seasons and temperatures.


The model also showed that people wouldn’t necessarily have built close to rivers, an idea which runs counter to modern assumptions. It revealed that there are likely 1,300 geoglyphs and villages in a 154,000 square-mile swath of Southern Amazonia—two-thirds of which haven’t been found yet.


The computer model also predicted population densities that were much larger than expected. The team now thinks that between 500,000 and 1 million people once lived in just seven percent of the Amazon basin. That flies in the face of previous estimates that only about 2 million people lived in the entire Amazon basin.


The distribution of the potential sites suggests an interconnected, advanced series of fortified villages spanning over 1,100 miles that flourished between 1200 and 1500 A.D. “We need to re-evaluate the history of the Amazon,” said José Iriarte, archaeologist at the University of Exeter, National Geographic Explorer, and the paper’s primary author, in a press release.


So what happened to the rain forest-dwelling people? De Souza says they died out after the European conquest of the region. Disease and genocide wiped out entire villages, and many others abandoned agriculture altogether. “They had to be on the move constantly,” he says. But the traces they left behind mean there’s still more to learn about their now-vanished civilization.....

Indexed for National Geographic by Dragonfly Kingdom Library


Spiritual Recovery: / Remnants of Gondwana: Indians Africans Dravidians..... A comparison of Fulani and Nadar HLA. -- Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Posted on November 7, 2020 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Indian Journal of Human Genetics

Wolters Kluwer -- Medknow Publications

A comparison of Fulani and Nadar HLA

Clyde Winters


Additional article information



Here recent studies of Nadar and Fulani HLA-A and HLA-B were compared to determine if these populations were related. The analysis revealed that the Nadar and Fulani populations share a number of unique alleles including A*101, A*0211, A*03011, A*3303, B*3501, B*3701, and B*51011. The study suggests a former residence of these diverse populations in same geographical area.


Keywords: Dravidian, Fulani, human leukocyte antigen, Nadar, polymorphic DNA


Aravanan[1–3] and Sergent[4] are sure that the Dravidian speakers originated in Africa. These researchers and others use linguistic, anthropological, and archaeological evidences to support this idea.[1–7] The Dravidian speakers are the dominant linguistic groups in South India. These languages are also spoken in Iran and Russia.[8]


Upadhyaya and Upadhyaya[6] claimed that the Fulani and Dravidiacn languages are related. The Fulani live in West Africa.


Aravanan[2,3] and Winters[8] have pointed out that in addition to shared phenotypical features the Fulani and Dravidian tribal groups such as the Kadaro and other tribal groups such as the Irula and Pularya have the sickle cell trait.[2,3,9]


The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele distribution has been studied in India and West Africa. The HLA system provides us with a means to define the relatedness of varying ethnic groups. Polymorphic DNA variants allow us to make inferences about prehistoric interactions among populations. Using HLA we can determine the relatedness of populations.


The HLA system is an excellent tool in anthropology because it can determine the genetic relatedness of different populations. In this paper, we will compare Fulani and Nadar HLA systems to determine if Africans and Indians are related.


Materials and Methods

In this analysis of Nadar and Fulani HLA, we will examine studies of HLA-A and HLA-B loci related to the Nadar and Fulani populations. Each study was analyzed to discover the HLA genotype and allele frequency of each molecular marker among each ethnic group in the study.



The Nadar is an Indian tribal group that lives in South India.[10,11] Tribal groups like the Nadar are very conservative and many researchers believe that they represent the purest form of Dravidian.[12,13]


The Fulani live in Africa. They are a nomadic people who are spread from North Africa. They are spread from North Africa and Chad into the Senegal region.[14]


Shankarkumar et al.[15] have done an extensive analysis of the Nadar HLA. Ellis et al.[15] have studied the Fulani HLA system.


In Table 1, we list the shared HLA-A and HLA-B alleles shared by the Nadar and Fulani. The Nadaro and Fulani share a number of HLA alleles. The congruent HLA alleles include A*101, A*0211, A*3303, and B*370 at low frequency. The HLA with the greatest frequency between both groups was A*03011, B*3501, and B*51011.


Table 1

Table 1

Nadaro and Fulani HLAs


The presence of shared HLA genome indicates that a genetic relationship may exist between the Nadar and Fulani peoples. This finding supported the linguistic[2–4,6–8] and arcaheological[4,7,8] evidences.


The present study provides some interesting findings. There are several shared Fulani and Nadar HLAs such as A*0301, B*3501, and B*51011, which are unique to the Nadar, but absent in other Indian populations.[14] This comparison of HLA systems make it clear that these alleles unique to the Nadar are relatively high among the Fulani.[15]



The finding of this study suggests that some Fulani and Nadar demonstrate an indistinguishable HLA profile. The shared HLA genomics appear to indicate a former habitat in which both groups thrived. The close relationship between the Dravidian and Fulani languages leads to the inference that these populations were formerly in close contact and the separation of the Nadar and Fulani does not date back to the original exist of AMH from Africa.


If this relationship does not date back to the exit of AMH from Africa when did this separation probably take place? There is one climatic event that had a significant impact on population movements in Africa. This event was the change of the Sahara from a fertile savanna to a harsh desert.


Lal[16] and Singh[17] have discovered archaeological evidence that link the South Indian Megalitic and Indian civilizations generally to the C-Group people of Nubia. This suggests that the ancestors of the Nadar and Fulani probably emigrated to West Africa and India after the rise of a hyperarid environment in the Saharan region and Sahel of Middle Africa.



Source of Support: Nil


Conflict of Interest: None declared.


Article information

Indian J Hum Genet. 2012 Jan-Apr; 18(1): 137–138.

doi: 10.4103/0971-6866.96686

PMCID: PMC3385173

PMID: 22754242

Clyde Winters

Governors State University, University Park, IL 60484, USA

Address for correspondence: Dr. Clyde Winters, Governors State University, University Park, IL 60484, USA, E-mail: ude.tsvog@sretniw-c

Copyright : © Indian Journal of Human Genetics

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Articles from Indian Journal of Human Genetics are provided here courtesy of Wolters Kluwer -- Medknow Publications


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Spiritual Recovery: / Remnants of Gondwana: Hidden treasures: North America's Rainforests. -- Dragonfly Kingdom Library

Posted on November 7, 2020 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Hidden treasures: America’s rainforests

Contrary to what you might assume, you don’t have to travel to another country to see an authentic rainforest. Check out these rainforests right here in the U.S.

If you are like most Americans, the word “rainforest” probably conjures up images of the Congo or Amazon—teeming jungles far from home. However, we have several rainforests right here in the United States, including one of the largest in the world, and they are pretty amazing in their own right.


Though the term is not well-defined, rainforests are vegetated areas that are mostly covered with trees and (obviously) receive lots of precipitation—generally at least 75 inches of rain per year. They are known for harboring a great diversity of plant and animal life, despite the fact that many contain relatively “poor” soil (most of the nutrients in tropical rainforests tend to be quickly sucked up by abundant and specially adapted plantlife; temperate rainforests fare better in this respect).


But whatever defines rainforests specifically, nature-lovers are fascinated by their dense, green scenery and the myriad life that inhabits it.


Hiker in Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Tongass National Forest, Alaska


The massive Tongass National Forest, in southeast Alaska, is the nation’s largest rainforest by a long shot—in fact, it is the largest national forest, period, covering some 16.9 million acres and spanning much of the famous “Inside Passage” that includes Glacier Bay National Park.


Mostly made up of Sitka spruce, western hemlock and western red cedar, Tongass National Forest accounts for nearly one-third of all the old-growth temperate rainforest left on earth, an unusually rich habitat type. About 5.7 million acres of the forest is protected as wilderness, including habitat for grizzly bears, moose, river otters, harbor seals, wolves and much more. The waterways of Tongass National Forest produce a huge numbers of pink, sockeye, coho and king salmon that help sustain local fishing communities.


Sadly, Tongass National Forest is one of America's most exploited forests, with decades of forestry clearcut scars to prove it. The Wilderness Society has engaged in efforts to protect the forest from excessive logging and help local communities transition to sustainable second-growth timber harvesting.


Olympic National Forest, WA

Olympic National Park is a famously diverse gem, including rocky beaches, subalpine forests and wildflower-filled meadows. The vast majority of the park is federally protected as wilderness; Olympic Wilderness—the largest in the state—contains 48 miles of beautiful Pacific coastline. However, Olympic National Park is best-known for its cool green old-growth trees, which provide habitat and shelter to wildlife including the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest.


Thanks to the region’s notorious weather, Olympic National Park’s rainforests—in the Hoh, Quinault, Queets and Bogachiel valleys—live up to their name, receiving as much as 14 feet of precipitation per year. Sitka spruce, western hemlock and other conifers are the dominant trees, as in many other temperate rainforests, but the ferns, mosses and other epiphytes growing on their dank trunks and branches provide more of a traditional jungle atmosphere.


Olympic National Park contains some of the best hiking anywhere in the nation. Another great reason to visit: Hoh Rainforest, the most famous rainforest in the lower 48 states, has recently gained attention as perhaps “the quietest place in the U.S.”—the perfect remedy to noisy modern life.


Chugach National Forest, AK

While Chugach National Forest is only one-third as large as Tongass National Forest, it is still one of the biggest national forests in the country (almost the size of New Hampshire). Despite lying only about 500 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Chugach National Forest encompasses a variety of vibrant, living landscapes including brilliant blue glaciers, wetlands and, naturally, forests. The latter are chiefly made up of mighty Sitka spruce and mountain and western hemlock, providing habitat for moose, bald eagles and other wildlife. Rivers in Chugach National Forest are major salmon producers as well.


Stretching from Prince William Sound to Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest also boasts great cultural significance. Indigenous tribes trace their connection to the land back thousands of years, and Chugach Eskimo, Eyak Indians, Kenaitze and other Athabascan Indian groups still call it home. The forest reserve that was eventually designated as Chugach National Forest by President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first of its kind in this country, and the forest is part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, a cherished Alaskan tradition. In 2015, Chugach National Forest even provided the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.


El Yunque National Forest, PR

While we do have rainforests in the U.S., almost all of them are temperate. The only tropical rainforest managed by the U.S. Forest Service is El Yunque National Forest in northern Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the U.S., and Puerto Ricans are American citizens). Here, you’ll see palms, dwarf broadleaf trees and colorful orchids instead of spruce, and many wildlife species you won’t find anywhere in the contiguous U.S, such as rare fruit bats, small tree frogs called coquí and the endangered Puerto Rican amazon (a type of parrot).


El Yunque National Forest was first protected as a federal forest reserve more than 110 years ago, and it is now a very popular spot for tourists, drawing about 1.2 million visitors each year. The scenery is tremendous, from the so-called “dwarf forest,” where diminutive trees blanket the mist-shrouded mountain slopes; to cool waterfalls; to throngs of brilliant tropical birds (per local legend, you can even occasionally spot U.F.O.s overhead).


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