Habitats and Ecological Communities of Indiana
Presettlement to Present
Publication Year: 2012
In Habitats and Ecological Communities of Indiana, leading experts assess the health and diversity of Indiana's eight wildlife habitats, providing detailed analysis, data-generated maps, color photographs, and complete lists of flora and fauna. This groundbreaking reference details the state's forests, grasslands, wetlands, aquatic systems, barren lands, and subterranean systems, and describes the nature and impact of two man-made habitats—agricultural and developed lands. The book considers extirpated and endangered species alongside invasives and exotics, and evaluates floral and faunal distribution at century intervals to chart ecological change.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: Indiana Natural Science
Title Page, Copyright, Contributors, Dedication
Michael Homoya would like to thank all of those who have helped to identify and preserve natural areas in the state, especially those affiliated with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Nature Preserves. Since the inception of the Nature Preserves Act in 1967, there have been over 200 preserves, totaling over 30,000 acres, dedicated. Our understanding...
The main objectives of this volume are to evaluate the present diversity and health of the state’s wildlife and habitats and to summarize 2 centuries of ecological change. Our goal is to contribute to an understanding of Indiana’s habitats and biodiversity and to help guide conservation planning for a broad array of wildlife, including nongame species. To achieve this, we have organized the book by habitats and historical periods. Using a GIS-based classification of habitats and land uses, we map, quantify (in terms of acreage), and describe 8...
Part 1. A Statewide Overview: Land Use, Soils, Flora, and Wildlife
1. Land Use and Human Impacts on Habitats
In 1800, the land we call Indiana was just being settled by immigrants, and many Native Americans still occupied much of the territory. Indiana would become a state a few years later, in 1816. At that time, David Thomas (1819) in Travels through the Western Country in the Summer of 1816 provided an interesting look at the habitat. A dam and mill were being built in 1816 by Major Abraham Markle on Otter Creek, in what is...
Soils are integral to any functioning ecosystem, providing the nutrients for plants and habitat for many vertebrate animals and insects, and multitudes of microorganisms. They require hundreds of years to develop and are good indicators of the climate, vegetation, and organisms involved in their formation. Therefore, knowledge...
3. Vascular Plants and Vertebrate Wildlife
Because of the great diversity of natural communities and vegetation types found within the borders of Indiana, there is a corresponding diversity of vascular plant species. Floras published in 1881, 1900, and 1940 recorded native species in the state totaling 1,194, 1,400, and 1,838, respectively...
Part 2. Natural Habitats: Changes over Two Centuries
4. Forest Lands
The main natural habitat of Indiana has always been deciduous forest (Figure 4.1; Map 4.1). Prior to settlement by colonists from the young United States, some 20 million of the state’s 23 million acres were probably forested. Indiana is part of the vast temperate deciduous forest biome...
This chapter includes all grasslands, including the original tall grass prairie, which comprised more than 2 million acres, mostly in the northern half of Indiana; pasture; haylands; strip-mined land in southwestern Indiana; vegetated dunes; savanna; and agricultural land put into...
Wetlands include many habitats and some grade one into the other. In this volume, we have divided wetlands into two chapters. In chapter 7, “Aquatic Systems,” are the natural rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds, and also man-made impoundments and reservoirs. Oxbows, backwaters, sloughs, and embayments are also considered...
7. Aquatic Systems
Clean fresh water is not only important to fish and wildlife, but a requirement for human survival. At the time of European settlement, Indiana was blessed with an abundance of fresh water and freshwater habitat (Figure 7.1). The state is partly bounded by major water bodies. Lake...
8. Barren Lands
Barren lands have sparse or no vegetative cover, little or no soil, and exposed rock, sand, and/or minerals. Following a general overview of such lands, we will treat three sub-habitats: sand dunes, rock outcrops and cliffs, and quarries (for rock, sand, and gravel). Such lands have been created both by natural processes (dunes and cliffs) and...
9. Subterranean Systems
Caves in Indiana (Figure 9.1) are confined for the most part to the Escarpment section of the Shawnee Hills Natural Region and the Mitchell Karst Plain section of the Highland Rim Natural Region, with a small area in the Muscatatuck Flats and Canyons section of the Bluegrass...
Part 3. Man-Made Habitats: Changes over Two Centuries
10. Agricultural Habitats
The European settlement of Indiana during the agrarian heyday of U.S. history meant that over 90% of Indiana’s forests, prairies, and wetlands were converted to agricultural lands by the early twentieth century (Figure 10.1). A substantial...
11. Developed Lands
Developed lands are those which have been highly modified by human activities to create urban areas and transportation systems. Their general locations were established by the late 1800s and have expanded to cover around 2 million...
Part 4. Species Concerns: Declining Natives and Invading Exotics
12. Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened Native Species
The past 200 years of habitat loss and transformation in Indiana have greatly affected the abundance and distribution of its plant and animal species. Numerous species present at the time of European settlement have been extirpated from the state, and many more are greatly reduced...
13. Exotic and Invasive Species
Exotic and invasive species are a big conservation problem of our time, a consequence of habitat disturbance, global trade and travel, and the relentless tendency of any species to reproduce to the utmost when given the opportunity (as first pointed out in 1859 by Charles Darwin, who described examples of exotic species explosions...
14. Vertebrate and Cave Invertebrate Species Described from Indiana
A number of early biologists worked in Indiana and described several species from the state. We will list here the vertebrate and cave invertebrate species that have their type localities in Indiana. An impressive number of fish and cave invertebrate species were described...
Conclusion: Summary and Research Needs
Habitats in Indiana were mostly in native vegetation in 1800 due to the small number of Native Americans and European settlers. While Native Americans were important in disturbing plant and animal communities in Indiana, their estimated population of 20,000 in 1800 means that....
Further Reading, About the Editors