Tracking down wood thrush and hooded warbler nests in the Cuyahoga River Valley of Ohio introduced me to this vast and variable ecosystem. Northern Hardwood Forests can be found from the higher peaks of the southern Appalachians clear through to Maine and into SE Canada and west to Michigan. There is a significant degree of variation in both understory tree/shrub species as well as the herbaceous layer on the forest floor.
Vocabulary: Canopy, nutrient-rich soil, loamy soil, pigment
Key processes: Forest succession
Key species: Sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, neotropical migrant songbirds, white-tailed deer, black bear, porcupine, red squirrel
Notable features: Northern hardwoods are a late successional assemblage of canopy tree species. In the Eastern United States these forest are home to a great diversity of songbird species. Mourning warblers, Yellow-bellied sapsuckers, Acadian flycatchers, and brown creepers are a few examples of bird species that rely on this ecosystem for their summer breeding territory.
Connection to Us: Maple syrup (since the 1600s) , lumber, firewood (high density), productive ecosystem for big game. In early America, the wood was used for a variety of household items, including rolling pins, scoops, apple grinders, and cheese presses. Today its uses include lumber for flooring, furniture, and cabinets.
Learn more about the Northern Hardwood Forests:
- Identifying a sugar maple: Cornell Sugar Maple Research & Extension
- Making maple syrup: Cornell Sugar Maple Research & Extension
- Sugar maple coloring book: Cornell Sugar Maple Research & Extension
- Hardwood Forest Foundation: Free kit and activities
Earthworm Engineers: How exotic earthworms are changing this ecosystem
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