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Pointing out that ecology and economics share the same root (oikos, meaning "home"), this book evokes the forest's beauty and intricacy while summarizing scientific understanding of components and interactions. We learn that moldering logs produce their own moisture as a by-product of decay, and are virtual reservoirs as well as storehouses of nutrients--qualities that contribute to their role as the rain forest's famed nurse logs, which act as seedbeds for oncoming generations of spruce and hemlock. We also learn that fallen trees affect stream flow and crucially influence the well-being of aquatic organisms (including fish) and that, washed downriver, they modify both beach character and life in the ocean near river mouths.
The unique ecological web of this ancient forest--which has existed for at least five thousand years--includes the peculiar above-ground rooting of maple trees, which actually feed from the mossy "upholstery" covering their trunks and branches; the role of elk as "landscape gardners" preventing the understory from becoming a thicket; and a newly discovered life community within the gravel zone of river bottoms and out under the forest floor.
"Many of the spruce and hemlock trees we walk among today were alive when men like Sir Francis Bacon and Johannes Kepler first recognized the value of objective data over mystical portents," write authors Ruth Kirk and Jerry Franklin. "They have been pushing their roots through the soil and wafting seeds into the air throughout the entire existence of science."
This book will be welcomed by resident Northwesterners and travelers as well as by all who are interested in nature. Its prose is both broadly readable and scientifically sound. More than 100 color photographs catch the variety and grandeur of this magnificent forest.
|I||A Green and Padded Realm||21|
|Temperate Rain Forest||39|
|Tropical Rain Forest||41|
|Protection for the Olympic Rain Forest||42|
|II||The Forest Community||47|
|Elk and the Understory||61|
|The Forest Floor||69|
|Rivers and Terraces||91|
|Forest and Ocean||101|
|III||Time and the Forest||107|
|What Pollen Can Tell||107|
|The Role of Disturbance||109|
|Today and Tomorrow||119|