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The Vegetation of Wisconsin

An Ordination of Plant Communities

John T. Curtis

Publication Year: 1959

One of the most important contributions in the field of plant ecology during the twentieth century, this definitive survey established the geographical limits, species compositions, and as much as possible of the environmental relations of the communities composing the vegetation of Wisconsin.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Foreword to the second printing

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pp. ix-xi

Part 1: Background

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pp. 3-6

The vegetation of a region consists of the total of the plants growing on its soils and in its waters. These plants are present as populations of individual species, which occur in mixtures of various sorts called plant communities. Each community is characterized...

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1. Flora

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pp. 7-24

Any account of the vegetation of a region must take the Bora of the region into consideration. Vegetation and flora differ from each other in a quantitative way. The flora is the total list of plant species present, irrespective of the numerical...

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2. Environment

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pp. 25-48

Apart from the Driftless Area, the surface of Wisconsin is mostly covered by glacial drift- The underlying bedrock, therefore, has relatively little direct effect on the vegetation except at the infreq uent outcroppings in escarpments and ravines. Indirectly...

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3. Plant communities and their distribution

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pp. 49-62

'Within the two floristic provinces of 'Wisconsin there is a more or less homogeneous set of species which is found distributed more or less uniformly throughout the area of each province. Any particular small location within a province, however...

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4. Vegetation study methods

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pp. 63-84

Our knowledge of the vegetation of Vhsconsin is derived from a number of different sources which includes generalized surveys and detailed local studies. One of the most complete sources is provided by the records of the federal land surveyors as mentioned in the last...

Part 2: Southern Forests

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5. Southern forests - general

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pp. 87-102

The forests of the prairie-forest floristic province are located in the southwestern-half of the state, south and west of the tension zone, in the shaded region shown on the map at the opening of this chapter. They occur on a full range of...

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6. Southern forests - mesic

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pp. 103-131

The mesic forests of the prairie-forest floristic province are not present in a single contiguous area but rather are scattered quite widely in separate islands (Figure VI-2). The largest areas in the province are in the eastern counties near Lake...

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7. Southern forests - xeric

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pp. 132-155

The xeric forests of southern vVisconsin are here considered to include all of the closed canopy forests on the uplands of the area southwest of the tension zone which are included within the range of 300 to 2300 on the compositional index described in...

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8. Southern forests - lowland

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pp. 156-168

The moist forests of southern Wisconsin are found on two different types of physiographic sites-river valleys and lake plains. The valley forests are commonly known as bottomland or floodplain forests, and the lake border types are usually...

Part 3: Northern Forests

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9. Northern forests - general

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pp. 191-183

The northern floristic province, north of the tension zone, contains a wide variety of vegetational types, both forest and non-forest. The main provincial area and a number of southern outliers are shown on the map at the opening of this...

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10. Northern forests - mesic

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pp. 184-201

The mesic forests of the northern floristic province are widely distributed through the entire area north of the tension zone. There were at the time of settlement large contiguous areas of this type in the counties along Lake Michigan north...

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11. Northern forests - xeric

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pp. 202-220

The two xeric segments of the northern forest include the pine forests of the state. They are found in all sections of the area north and east of the tension zone but are particularly numerous on the outwash sands and the sandy glacial lake beds...

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12. Northern forests - lowland

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pp. 221-242

The swamp forests of the northern lowlands have the distinction of being the first vegetation type to be described for Wisconsin. Nicolas Perrot, nearly three hundred years ago in 1667, gave a general account of the swamps, with remarks...

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13. Boreal forest

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pp. 243-258

The boreal forest is actually a circumboreal inormation, with very close similarities between the Eurasian and the North American communities. The forest in this hemisphere is largely Canadian in its distribution, with lateral extensions southward on...

Part 4: Grasslands

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14. Prairie

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pp. 261-307

The prairies of Wisconsin include some of the most interesting though least widely known of any of our plant comlllunities. The word prairie is of French origin and means meadow. It was applied to the open, grass-covered, treeless landscapes of middle...

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15. Sand barrens and bracken-grassland

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pp. 308-322

On the higher terraces of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers and at a few other places south of the tension zone, the oak barrens give way to an open, prairie-like vegetation. In their undisturbed condition, these open plains would probably have qualified...

Part 5: Savanna and Shrub Communities

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16. Savanna

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pp. 325-351

When the Spaniards began their explorations of the islands in the Caribbean, they found many types of vegetation totally unfamiliar to them. One of the most striking was a peculiar combination of grassland and forest, in which the bulk of the land...

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17. Tall shrub communities

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pp. 352-358

Many of the plant communities of Wisconsin have a high content of shrubs and these may reach high densities in such types as the open bog and the pine barren. In all cases discussed so far, however, the shrubs have been low species which were competing with the herbs for light, or else they have...

Part 6: Lesser Communities

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18. Fen, meadow, and bog

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pp. 361-384

The word fen means marsh or bog, but it has been given a more restricted connotation by many English ecologists. Tansley (1939) used it to refer to a "soil-vegetation" type in which grasses and forbs are the dominant plants and in which the soil is on organic...

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19. Aquatic communities

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pp. 385-401

All of the communities discussed so far may be classed as terrestrial, although several of them occurred on very wet sites. The differentiation between terrestrial and aquatic is based largely on the average relation between the soil surface and the surface...

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20. Beach, dune, and cliff communities

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pp. 402-411

The rather diverse habitats to be treated in this chapter have several features in common. Their substrates have no true soil but are composed of loose sand or bare rock. In consequence their plant covering is rather sparse and shows little plant-to-plant..

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21. Weed communities

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pp. 412-434

All of the communities treated in previous chapters occur in undisturbed habitats or else are subject to what might be termed natural disturbance as induced by fire, wind, wave action, or flooding. They represent a relatively rare condition in the present pattern of land use. The majority of Wisconsin's land...

Part 7: The Vegetation as a Whole

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22. Postglacial history

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pp. 437-455

The best evidence concerning the past history of vegetation is obtained by the study of fossil remains of that vegetation, preserved in such a way as to show sequential changes with time. These remnants may be macrofossils, such as logs, cones, seeds, or leaves...

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23. The effect of man on the vegetation

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pp. 456-475

Our knowledge of the possible influence of early Indian populations on the vegetation of Wisconsin is based entirely upon archaeological evidence concerning their cultural habits that has been deduced from tools and other artifacts that have been...

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24. Interrelations of communities

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pp. 476-514

The accounts of Wisconsin plant communities given in the previous chapters were designed largely to convey information about the distribution, structure, and floristic composition of the several types. The interrelations of the communities...


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pp. 515-598


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pp. 599-603


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pp. 604-632

Species list

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pp. 633-644


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pp. 645-657

E-ISBN-13: 9780299019433
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299019402

Page Count: 704
Publication Year: 1959