A Natural History of the Central Appalachians
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: West Virginia University Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book was written to provide a fairly comprehensive yet relatively non-technical overview of the Central Appalachians, with primary emphasis on the forests of the region. The target audience includes students, teachers, and interested laypersons. The initial idea of doing such a book first came about during a discussion with Dr. Earl L. Core very early in my career. ...
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The region defined herein as the Central Appalachians consists of a system of linear ridges with intervening valleys, deeply dissected plateaus, and other landforms that produce a generally rugged terrain in western and southwestern Virginia, eastern and central West Virginia, western Maryland, and a portion of south central and southwestern Pennsylvania (fig. 1). ...
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The earliest evidence of life on the earth is represented by fossils of bacteriumlike organisms that have been dated to about 3.5 billion years ago. These fossils occurred in rocks derived from sediments deposited in the shallow water of an early ocean, and for at least the first 2 billion years the history of life took place in the water. ...
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The vegetation of the Aentral Appalachians as we know it today is the result of a number of factors that have been in play for a very long time. The region has a diverse assemblage of plant species (the flora), and the member species in this assemblage are found in different combinations across the landscape. ...
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As discussed in Chapter 3, the forest vegetation that occurs over a landscape is best considered as a continuum, with the particular assemblage of tree species present at a given locality reflecting local environmental conditions. Where different localities have comparable environmental conditions and historical natural disturbances (e.g., windstorms or floods), ...
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Although forests once extended over most of the Central Appalachians, there have always been some non-forested areas. Some of these are of particular interest because of the unique geological, topographic, climatic, or anthropogenic factors ultimately responsible for their existence or their ability to support unusual assemblages of plants (and animals). ...
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THERE IS LITTLE QUESTION that vascular plants dominate the landscape of the Central Appalachians. As discussed in some detail in preceding chapters, assemblages of species change both over time and from place to place. Some localities support highly diverse assemblages, but in other localities few species are present. Vascular plants such as trees can be large enough to be easily noticed, but this is not true of some less conspicuous enullamples, ...
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The term lower plant has no precise meaning, and in the context of this chapter it simply refers to all the more primitive plants and plantlike organisms found in the forests of the Central Appalachians. This is an exceedingly diverse assemblage that includes vascular plants (ferns and lycophytes), bryophytes, lichens, and algae. ...
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When one thinks of a forest, the first things that come to mind are the trees and other plants that make it up. We recognize different types of forests (e.g., oak forests or pine forests) on the basis of the dominant trees present. After trees, what one would ordinarily associate with a forest is the animal life, particularly some of the more conspicuous birds and mammals. ...
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More than 95 percent of all described species of animals are invertebrates (i.e., lacking an internal skeletal system), and members of this large and diverse assemblage are well represented in the Central Appalachians. Some of these, including the larger insects (e.g., butterflies), are conspicuous, but most invertebrates are smaller and often live in environments where they are likely to be overlooked. ...
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The major distinguishing feature of an insect is that it has six legs. Most adult insects are capable of flight, and this—coupled with their sheer abundance—makes them more conspicuous than any other group of invertebrates found in the Central Appalachians. Although most insects are terrestrial, numerous aquatic forms also exist, ...
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It has been estimated that the vertebrates—those animals that possess an internal skeletal system, including a backbone—make up less than 5 percent of all animals. But vertebrates tend to be larger, usually much larger, than invertebrates and are much better known. Representatives of all five major groups of vertebrates—fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals—are found in the Central Appalachians. ...
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Unlike the three groups of vertebrates discussed in chapter 11 (reptiles, amphibians, and fish), birds and mammals are warm-blooded. Features that serve to distinguish birds from mammals are a skin covered by feathers (for both insulation and flight), forelimbs modified as wings (usually for flight, but not in the same manner as the wings of bats), and hollow bones (thus providing a lighter weight for flying). ...
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It is not known when the first Native Americans arrived in the region recognized as the Central Appalachians, but the event undoubtedly took place more than twelve thousand years ago. Radiocarbon dates obtained for plant material associated with human artifacts collected from the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, an archaeological site in southwestern Pennsylvania, suggest that it was occupied at least sixteen thousand years ago. ...
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The Central Appalachian region, with great natural beauty, large expanses of forests, and low human population, has developed into one of the premier recreational areas in all of North America. Three national forests—the Monongahela in West Virginia, the Jefferson in Virginia (with a very small part in Kentucky), and the George Washington in Virginia (and a small portion of West Virginia)—are found in the region. ...
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Glossary of Common and Scientific Names
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...1: Map prepared by Jason Tullis; Fig. 2: Fossils of West Virginia 1); Figs. 4 and 5: Hugh H. Mills; Fig. 6: Charles S. Garratt; Fig. 9: History; Figs. 11, 12, and 13: Fossils of West Virginia by Hassan Amjad, Lulu.com, Beckley, West Virginia, 2006 (vol. 1); Fig. 14: Museum; Fig. 15: Fossils of West Virginia by Hassan Amjad, Lulu....
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About the Author, Back Cover
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Steven L. Stephenson is a Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches such courses as Plant Biology, Comparative Botany, Plant Ecology, and Forest Ecology. He is the author or coauthor of more than 250 papers and seven books, ...
Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013
Edition: 1st ed.
Series Title: Central Appalachian Natural History
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth