The groundhog known as a woodchuck, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. It was first scientifically described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758; the groundhog is referred to as a chuck, wood-shock, whistlepig, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, moonack, red monk and, among French Canadians in eastern Canada, siffleux. The name "thickwood badger" was given in the Northwest to distinguish the animal from the prairie badger. Monax is an Algonquian name of the woodchuck, which meant "digger". Young groundhogs may be called chucklings. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the groundhog is a lowland creature, it is found through much of the eastern United States across Canada and into Alaska The groundhog is the largest sciurid in its geographical range. Adults are 16 to 20 inches long, including a six-inch tail. A large woodchuck thought to weigh twenty pounds when carried was half that weight when weighed by scale.
Woodchuck weight ranges from five to twelve pounds. Large individuals may weigh up to 15 pounds. Seasonal weight changes indicate circannual use of fat. Groundhogs attain progressivly higher weights each year for the first two or three years, after which weight plateaus. Groundhogs have four incisor teeth. Constant usage wears them down again by about that much each week. Unlike the incisors of many other rodents, the incisors of groundhogs are white to ivory-white. Groundhogs are well-adapted for digging, with curved, thick claws. Unlike other sciurids, the groundhog's tail is comparably shorter—only about one-fourth of body length; the etymology of the name woodchuck is unrelated to chucking. It stems from an Algonquian name for wuchak; the similarity between the words has led to the popular tongue-twister: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood! The groundhog prefers open country and the edges of woodland, is far from a burrow entrance.
Marmota monax has a wide geographic range. It is found in low-elevation forests, small woodlots, fields and hedgerows, it constructs dens in well-drained soil, most have summer and winter dens. Human activity has increased food abundance allowing M. monax to thrive. In the wild, groundhogs can live up to six years with three being average. In captivity, groundhogs live up to 14 years. Humans, dogs and foxes are about the only predators that can kill adult groundhogs although young may be taken by owls and hawks; the red fox is the major predator of Marmota monax. Woodchucks may suffer from parasitism and a woodchuck may die from infestation or from bacteria transmitted by vectors. In areas of intensive agriculture and dairying regions of the state of Wisconsin the southern parts, the woodchuck by 1950 had been extirpated. Jackson suggested the amount of damage done by the woodchuck had been exaggerated and that excessive persecution by people reduced its numbers in Wisconsin. In some areas marmots are important game animals and are killed for sport, food, or fur.
In Kentucky an estimated 267,500 M. monax were taken annually from 1964 to 1971 Woodchucks had protected status in the state of Wisconsin until 2017. Woodchuck numbers appear to have decreased in Illinois; the time spent observing groundhogs by field biologists represents only a small fraction of time devoted to the field research. W. J. Schoonmaker reports that groundhogs may hide when they smell or hear the observer. Ken Armitage, marmot researcher, states that the social biology of the groundhog is well understudied. Despite their heavy-bodied appearance, groundhogs are accomplished swimmers and climb trees when escaping predators or when they want to survey their surroundings, they prefer to retreat to their burrows. Groundhogs are agonistic and territorial among their own species, may skirmish to establish dominance. Outside their burrow, individuals are alert when not feeding, it is common to see one or more nearly-motionless individuals standing erect on their hind feet watching for danger.
When alarmed, they use a high-pitched whistle to warn the rest of the colony, hence the name "whistle-pig". Groundhogs may squeal when fighting injured, or caught by a predator. Other sounds groundhogs may make are a sound produced by grinding their teeth. David P. Barash wrote he witnessed only two occasions of upright play-fighting among woodchucks and that the upright posture of play-fighting involves sustained physical contact between individuals and may require a degree of social tolerance unknown in M. monax. He said it was possible to conclude, that upright play-fighting is part of the woodchuck's behavioral repertory but shown because of physical spacing and/or low social tolerance. Herbivorous, groundhogs eat wild grasses and other vegetation, including berries and agricultural crops, when available. In early spring and coltsfoot are important groundhog food items; some additional foods include sheep sorrel, timothy-grass, tearthumb, agrimony and black raspberries, plantain, wild lettuce, all varieties of clover, alfalfa.
Groundhogs occasionally eat grubs
Prairies are ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, a composition of grasses and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type. Temperate grassland regions include the Pampas of Argentina and Uruguay, the steppe of Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Lands referred to as "prairie" tend to be in North America; the term encompasses the area referred to as the Interior Lowlands of Canada, the United States, Mexico, which includes all of the Great Plains as well as the wetter, hillier land to the east. In the U. S. the area is constituted by most or all of the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Oklahoma, sizable parts of the states of Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and western and southern Minnesota. The Palouse of Washington and the Central Valley of California are prairies; the Canadian Prairies occupy vast areas of Manitoba and Alberta. According to Theodore Roosevelt: Prairie is the French word for meadow.
The formation of the North American Prairies started with the uplift of the Rocky Mountains near Alberta. The mountains created a rain shadow; the parent material of most prairie soil was distributed during the last glacial advance that began about 110,000 years ago. The glaciers expanding southward scraped the landscape, picking up geologic material and leveling the terrain; as the glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago, it deposited this material in the form of till. Wind based loess deposits form an important parent material for prairie soils. Tallgrass prairie evolved over tens of thousands of years with the disturbances of fire. Native ungulates such as bison and white-tailed deer, roamed the expansive, diverse grasslands before European colonization of the Americas. For 10,000-20,000 years, native people used fire annually as a tool to assist in hunting and safety. Evidence of ignition sources of fire in the tallgrass prairie are overwhelmingly human as opposed to lightning. Humans, grazing animals, were active participants in the process of prairie formation and the establishment of the diversity of graminoid and forbs species.
Fire has the effect on prairies of removing trees, clearing dead plant matter, changing the availability of certain nutrients in the soil from the ash produced. Fire kills the vascular tissue of trees, but not prairie species, as up to 75% of the total plant biomass is below the soil surface and will re-grow from its deep roots. Without disturbance, trees will encroach on a grassland and cast shade, which suppresses the understory. Prairie and spaced oak trees evolved to coexist in the oak savanna ecosystem. In spite of long recurrent droughts and occasional torrential rains, the grasslands of the Great Plains were not subject to great soil erosion; the root systems of native prairie grasses held the soil in place to prevent run-off of soil. When the plant died, the fungi, bacteria returned its nutrients to the soil; these deep roots help native prairie plants reach water in the driest conditions. Native grasses suffer much less damage from dry conditions than many farm crops grown. Prairie in North America is split into three groups: wet and dry.
They are characterized by tallgrass prairie, mixed, or shortgrass prairie, depending on the quality of soil and rainfall. In wet prairies, the soil is very moist, including during most of the growing season, because of poor water drainage; the resulting stagnant water is conducive to the formation of fens. Wet prairies have excellent farming soil; the average precipitation is 10–30 inches a year. Mesic prairie good soil during the growing season; this type of prairie is the most converted for agricultural usage. Dry prairie has somewhat wet to dry soil during the growing season because of good drainage in the soil; this prairie can be found on uplands or slopes. Dry soil doesn't get much vegetation due to lack of rain; this is the dominant biome in the Southern Canadian agricultural and climatic region known as Palliser's Triangle. Once thought to be unarable, the Triangle is now one of the most important agricultural regions in Canada thanks to advances in irrigation technology. In addition to its high local importance to Canada, Palliser's Triangle is now one of the most important sources of wheat in the world as a result of these improved methods of watering wheat fields.
Despite these advances in farming technology, the area is still prone to extended periods of drought, which can be disastrous for the industry if it is prolonged. An infamous example of this is the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which hit much of the United States great plains ecoregion - contributing to the Great Depression. Nomadic hunting has been the main human activity on the prairies for the majority of the archaeological record; this once included many now-extinct species of megafauna. After the other extinction, the main hunted animal on the prairies was the plains bison. Using loud noises and waving large signals, Native peoples would drive bison in fenced pens called to be killed with bows and arrows or spears, or drive them off a cliff, to kill or injure the bison en masse. Th
The Tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem native to central North America. Natural and anthropogenic fire, as well as grazing by large mammals, were agents of periodic disturbance, which regulates tree encroachment, recycles nutrients to the soil, catalyzes some seed dispersal and germination processes. Prior to widespread use of the steel plow, which enabled conversion to agricultural land use, tallgrass prairies expanded throughout the American Midwest and smaller portions of southern central Canada, from the transitional ecotones out of eastern North American forests, west to a climatic threshold based on precipitation and soils, to the southern reaches of the Flint Hills in Oklahoma, to a transition into forest in Manitoba, they were characteristically found in the central forest-grasslands transition, the central tall grasslands, the upper Midwest forest-savanna transition, the northern tall grasslands ecoregions. They flourished in areas with moderate rainfall around 30-35 inches per year.
To the east were the fire-maintained eastern savannas. In the northeast, where fire was infrequent and periodic windthrow represented the main source of disturbance, beech-maple forests dominated. In contrast, shortgrass prairie was typical in the western Great Plains, where rainfall is less frequent and soils are less fertile. Due to expansive agricultural land use little tallgrass prairie remains. Retreating glaciers deposited the parent material for soil in the form of till, i.e. unsorted sediment, about 10,000 years ago. Wind-dropped loess and organic matter accumulated. Animals such as bison, elk and rabbits added nitrogen to the soil through urine and feces. Prairie dogs, a ground squirrel-like rodent considered to be a keystone species, dug tunnels that "aerated the soil and channeled water several feet below the surface." For 5,000 to 8,000 years, more than 240 million acres of prairie grasslands were a major feature of the landscape. Between 1800 and 1930, the vast majority was destroyed.
Settlers transformed. Major reasons for the prairie's demise were the confined grazing pattern of European cattle versus bison, the near-extermination of prairie dogs, the plowing and cultivation of the land, which breached tallgrass root systems and interrupted reproduction. Further, extensive tile drainage has changed the soil's water content and hydrodynamics, ongoing soil erosion results in its increasing loss. Estimates differ of how much original tallgrass prairie survives, ranging from less than 1% in "scattered remnants found in pioneer cemeteries, restoration projects, along highways and railroad rights-of-way, on steep bluffs high above rivers" to 4%. Tallgrass prairie is capable of supporting significant biodiversity. Parts of the ecoregion among the "top ten ecoregions for reptiles, birds and tree species. Tallgrass species are found in the understory layer." Oak and hickory tree species occur in some areas, but in moderate densities. Bison were a dominant species; the tallgrass prairie biome depends on prairie fires, a form of wildfire, for its survival and renewal.
Tree seedlings and intrusive alien species without fire tolerance are eliminated by periodic fires. Such fires may either be set by humans or started by lightning; as its name suggests, the most obvious features of the tallgrass prairie are tall grasses, such as indiangrass, big bluestem, little bluestem, switchgrass, which average between 4.9 and 6.6 ft tall, with occasional stalks as high as 8.2 to 9.8 ft. Prairies include a large percentage of forbs, such as lead plant, prairie rosinweed, sunflowers, asters and many other species. Technically, prairies have less than 5–11% tree cover. A grass-dominated plant community with 10–49% tree cover is a savanna. After the steel plow was invented by John Deere, this fertile soil became one of America's most important resources. Over 95% of the original tallgrass prairie is now farmland; the tallgrass prairie survives in areas unsuited to plowing: the rocky hill country of the Flint Hills, which runs north to south through east-central Kansas. In Oklahoma, the tallgrass prairie has been maintained by ranchers, who saw the hat-high grass as prime grazing area for cattle.
The 39,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County and the somewhat smaller 10,900-acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas, attempt to maintain this ecosystem in its natural form. They have reintroduced plains bison to the vast expanses of grass. Other U. S. preserves include Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois, Broken Kettle Preserve and Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, Konza Prairie in Kansas, Prairie State Park in Missouri. In eastern North Dakota is Sheyenne National Grassland, the only national grassland on the tallgrass prairie. Several small tallgrass prairie reservations are in Cook County, including the National Natural Landmark, Gensburg-Markham Prairie; the original exte
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is the agency of the U. S. state of Minnesota charged with managing the state's natural resources. The agency maintains areas such as state parks, state forests, recreational trails, recreation areas as well as managing minerals and forestry throughout the state; the agency is divided into six divisions - Ecological & Water Resources, Fish & Wildlife, Lands & Minerals, Parks & Trails. Efforts to conserve Minnesota's wildlife began as early as 1876, with a forestry association established to protect the state's timber resources. However, those efforts became futile as the industry took over and people sought the money that could be made on the land. Over time, there were other attempts to control the destruction of resources, but most only had effects on what was done to public land, such as the Land Commission established in 1885. In 1911 the Minnesota Division of Forestry was established to conserve the state's forests by promoting fire prevention and protection.
The first agency created to protect the state's resources was founded in 1931 by the Minnesota Legislature as the Minnesota Department of Conservation. When the Department of Conservation was created, it brought together four separate state entities: forestry and fish, drainage and waters, lands and timber, while adding a division of state parks and a tourist bureau as well; the Great Depression was an important time for the Department of Conservation. Federal unemployment programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration provided labor to construct buildings, clear trails, plant trees. Many of the buildings in Minnesota's state parks were built during this period. In 1971 the name of the agency was changed to the Department of Natural Resources to "better reflect its broader responsibilities." More sections of the Minnesota Government were added to the Department and many of the division names changed. Old policies were replaced with new and more prevalent ones geared towards issues associated with an increase in state land use.
The Division of Ecological and Water Resources studies the ecosystems within Minnesota. They analyze the information in order to understand how the ecosystems function, how they benefit the citizens of Minnesota, how they are impacted by human use, what long-term effects will take place on the health of the ecosystems; the division is involved in locating and protecting endangered and threatened species, as well as the habitats that are vital to the conservation of those species. Another part of the division's responsibilities is in managing threats against the ecosystem; these threats include: harmful invasive species and wildlife diseases, the negative impact human development can have on the environment. One of the largest programs that the Division of Ecological Resources is in charge of is Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife Program, which focuses on the conservation of species that are not hunted; this would include bald eagles and Minnesota's state bird, the common loon. The division is accountable for all lakes and streams, ground waters within the state.
The division enforces permits implemented to preserve Minnesota's water resources. The program works on observing the effects of climate on the water resources and analyzes the data in order to understand and address the impact the climate has on the Minnesota's wildlife and its citizens; as the name implies, the division focuses on the enforcement of Minnesota’s natural resource laws. Part of the Fish and Game Division, the Enforcement Division’s goal has not changed much: keep the public safe. Conservation Officers employed by this division enforce laws regarding hunting, trapping, recreational vehicles, State Parks and wild rice harvesting. A second focus is educating the public about safety. Classes are taught by trained volunteers and are related to the enforced laws; the division enforces air and water quality laws. The Division of Fish and Wildlife was part of the original Department of Conservation. Called the Fish and Game Division, it was created to manage and regulate the state’s fish and wildlife resource.
This division manages all of the lands acquired by the Department of Natural Resources. An example of this is on sister lakes, Lake Maria and Lake Sarah, in Murray Country where the DNR bought 640 acres of land between the two lakes to help improve water quality, they disperse licenses and recreational vehicle registrations throughout Minnesota. The Division of Forestry was founded in 1911 as the Minnesota Forest Service, predating the Department of Natural Resources and its predecessor Department of Conservation; the mission of the Division of Forestry is to maintain healthy forests. This is done through cooperative forest management, fire management, state land management. Cooperative management with private land owners vary and are carried out by the Forest Stewardship Program. Woodland Stewardship Plans The Parks and Trails Division was part of the Minnesota Forestry Service until it was given its own division in the Department of Conservation in 1935; the Division of Parks and Trails has three major goals.
The first being to preserve both cultural resources in Minnesota. The second comes in educating visitors; the third goal is to support opportunities for visitors to enjoy recreational activities in the parks, without causing damage to the wildlife, so people will be able to appreciate the resources for generations. The division takes part in publishing individual water access maps by county, individual state trail maps, snowmobile trail maps, off-highway vehicle trail maps, Lake Superior kayak trail maps as well as maps of rivers w
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate deciduous or temperate broad-leaf forests are a variety of temperate forest dominated by trees that lose their leaves each year. They are found in areas with cool winters; the six major areas of this forest type occur in the Northern Hemisphere: North America, East Asia and Western Europe, southern Sweden and southern Norway. Smaller areas occur in southern South America. Examples of typical trees in the Northern Hemisphere's deciduous forests include oak, maple and elm, while in the Southern Hemisphere, trees of the genus Nothofagus dominate this type of forest; the diversity of tree species is higher in regions where the winter is milder, in mountainous regions that provide an array of soil types and microclimates. The largest intact temperate deciduous forest in the world is protected inside of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park in Upstate New York in the United States. Humans have colonized areas in the temperate deciduous forest, they have harvested wood for charcoal. During the settlement of North America, potash made from tree ashes was exported back to Europe as fertilizer.
This left less than one-quarter of original forests to remain. Many forests are now small fragments dissected by roads; the introduction of exotic diseases continues to be a threat to forest trees, hence, the forest. At the same time, species such as deer, which are clearing rather than true forest animals, have expanded their range and proliferated in these altered landscapes. Large deer populations have deleterious effects on tree regeneration overall, but for edible species including yew, yellow birch, hemlock. Deer grazing has significant negative effects on the number and kind of herbaceous flowering plants; the continuing pressure to increase deer populations, the continued killing of top carnivores, suggests that overgrazing by deer will continue to be a significant forest conservation problem. Objective criteria for the restoration of deciduous forest include large trees, coarse woody debris, spring ephemeral, top predators. Temperate coniferous forest Temperate broadleaf and mixed forest International Year of Forests Old-growth forest A map of biome distribution
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the Earth. Spruces are large trees, from about 20–60 m tall when mature, have whorled branches and conical form, they can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needles, which are four-sided and attached singly to small persistent peg-like structures on the branches, by their cones, which hang downwards after they are pollinated. The needles are shed. In other similar genera, the branches are smooth. Spruce are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, such as the eastern spruce budworm, they are used by the larvae of gall adelgids. In the mountains of western Sweden, scientists have found a Norway spruce, nicknamed Old Tjikko, which by reproducing through layering, has reached an age of 9,550 years and is claimed to be the world's oldest known living tree; the word spruce comes from a Middle English adjective spruse which meant from Prussia.
The adjective comes from an unknown alteration of an Old French form of Prussia - Pruce, which itself comes from New Latin, which adapted it from Old Prussian. Spruce and Sprws seem to have been generic terms for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants, the tree thus was believed to be particular to Prussia, which for a time was figurative in England as a land of luxuries. DNA analyses have shown that traditional classifications based on the morphology of needle and cone are artificial. A recent study found that P. breweriana had a basal position, followed by P. sitchensis, the other species were further divided into three clades, suggesting that Picea originated in North America. Spruce has been found in the fossil record from the early Cretaceous, 136 million years ago. Thirty-five named species of spruce exist in the world; the Plant List has 59 accepted spruce names. Basal species: Picea breweriana – Brewer's spruce, Klamath Mountains, North America. Beyond that, determination can become more difficult.
Intensive sampling in the Smithers/Hazelton/Houston area of British Columbia showed Douglas, according to Coates et al. that cone scale morphology was the feature most useful in differentiating species of spruce. Daubenmire, after range-wide sampling, had recognized the importance of the 2 latter characters. Taylor had noted that the most obvious morphological difference
A birch is a thin-leaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus Betula, in the family Betulaceae, which includes alders and hornbeams. It is related to the beech-oak family Fagaceae; the genus Betula contains 30 to 60 known taxa of which 11 are on the IUCN 2011 Red List of Threatened Species. They are a rather short-lived pioneer species widespread in the Northern Hemisphere in northern areas of temperate climates and in boreal climates. Birch species are small to medium-sized trees or shrubs of northern temperate and boreal climates; the simple leaves are alternate, singly or doubly serrate, feather-veined and stipulate. They appear in pairs, but these pairs are borne on spur-like, two-leaved, lateral branchlets; the fruit is a small samara. They differ from the alders in that the female catkins are not woody and disintegrate at maturity, falling apart to release the seeds, unlike the woody, cone-like female alder catkins; the bark of all birches is characteristically marked with long, horizontal lenticels, separates into thin, papery plates upon the paper birch.
Distinctive colors give the common names gray, black and yellow birch to different species. The buds form early and are full grown by midsummer, all are lateral, no terminal bud is formed; the wood of all the species is close-grained with a satiny texture and capable of taking a fine polish. The flowers are monoecious, opening with or before the leaves and borne once grown these leaves are 3–6 millimetres long on three-flowered clusters in the axils of the scales of drooping or erect catkins or aments. Staminate aments are pendulous, clustered or solitary in the axils of the last leaves of the branch of the year or near the ends of the short lateral branchlets of the year, they remain rigid during the winter. The scales of the staminate aments when mature are broadly ovate, yellow or orange color below the middle, dark chestnut brown at apex; each scale bears two bractlets and three sterile flowers, each flower consisting of a sessile, membranaceous two-lobed, calyx. Each calyx bears four short filaments with one-celled anthers or two filaments divided into two branches, each bearing a half-anther.
Anther cells open longitudinally. The pistillate aments are pendulous, solitary; the pistillate scales are oblong-ovate, three-lobed, pale yellow-green tinged with red, becoming brown at maturity. These scales bear each flower consisting of a naked ovary; the ovary is compressed, two-celled, crowned with two slender styles. Each scale bears a single small, winged nut, oval, with two persistent stigmas at the apex. Betula species are organised into five subgenera. Birches native to Europe and Asia include Betula albosinensis – Chinese red birch Betula alnoides – alder-leaf birch Betula ashburneri – Betula baschkirica – Betula bomiensis – Betula browicziana – Betula calcicola – Betula celtiberica – Betula chichibuensis – Betula chinensis – Chinese dwarf birch Betula coriaceifolia – Betula corylifolia – Betula costata – Betula cylindrostachya – Betula dahurica – Betula delavayi – Betula ermanii – Erman's birch Betula falcata – Betula fargesii – Betula fruticosa – Betula globispica – Betula gmelinii – Betula grossa – Japanese cherry birch Betula gynoterminalis – Betula honanensis – Betula humilis or Betula kamtschatica – Kamchatka birch platyphylla Betula insignis – Betula karagandensis – Betula klokovii – Betula kotulae – Betula litvinovii – Betula luminifera – Betula maximowiczii – monarch birch Betula medwediewii – Caucasian birch Betula megrelica – Betula microphylla – Betula nana – dwarf birch ) Betula pendula – silver birch Betula platyphylla – —Siberian silver birch Betula potamophila – Betula potaninii – Betula psammophila – Betula pubescens – downy birch known as white, European white or hairy birch Betula raddeana – Betula saksaren