Salamanders indicate things are looking up
Take woodland salamanders, a useful indicator of forest ecosystem recovery, according to US researchers at the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. Their research revealed that abundant numbers of the creatures correlate with a healthy forest, one that has undergone ecological advancement and ecosystem recovery.
Mill Creek is an old-growth forest in Del Norte, California, which has suffered from extensive commercial logging for more than a century. Luckily it has recently been bought by the state park system, and will be restored to primary forest to create vital migration corridors for rare wildlife.
The findings are important because this type of forest is a unique carbon sink, which contains some of the most abundant land carbon stocks on earth. Old-growth forests like this hold onto carbon pollution as well as being home to the world’s most diverse ecosystems.
Clean air policies do the trick
At the same time, there’s good news about clean air policies. A Kansas State University ecologist has discovered that the 1970 Clean Air Act has apparently helped forest systems recover from decades of sulphur pollution and acid rain.
The study looked at more than 100 years of eastern red cedar tree rings, and found that the trees’ growth and physiology have improved significantly since the Act was made law.
The researchers concentrated on red cedars because they are abundant, live a long time and are great at recording environmental variability. They grow really slowly and rely on surface moisture, so they’re particularly vulnerable to environmental change. And because they live for centuries, scientists can analyse hundreds of years’ worth of rings.
Stunning image courtesy of Crystal Luxmore.