Washington State Magazine

Washington State Magazine :: Spring 2013

Spring 2013

Matters of taste

In This Issue...


How Washington Tastes—The Apple meets Cougar Gold :: One need not be an expert taster to appreciate the chemistry between the apple and Cougar Gold. by Tim Steury

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Guide: Heirloom apples in Washington }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Infographic: The Cheddar cheese lexicon }

Passing the Smell Test :: Throughout the living world, the nose leads the way, pioneering a course through the environment with the ability to spot virtually invisible perils and prizes. by Eric Sorensen

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Simple scents in retail }

Patrick Rothfuss ’02—World builder :: Life’s a fantasy for best-selling author Patrick Rothfuss. He invites us into his worlds, one real and one of his own invention. by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: Tribble Trouble :: WSU professor emeritus Paul Brians and a look at the Icons of Science Fiction at Seattle’s Experience Music Project}

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: Literary Taste :: Experts' takes on the seminal works in literary genres}

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: The art of Nate Taylor ’02 }


Taste, an Accounting in Three Scenes :: I’d be lying if I claimed not to prefer the golf swings of Bobby Jones or Sam Snead to that of Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. So I guess I’m a snob. by Bill Morelock ’77


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Replays, multiple views, and info in iStadium A look at the 3D-4U Solutions technology }


:: First Words: Tastes like Beethoven

:: Posts

:: In Season: The essential egg

:: Sports: Down Under to Pullman

:: Sports Extra: One happy ending

:: Last Words: Fruitful history

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: Training for Good Eggs The Shoups and the Puyallup poultry course }


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Labels and branding from No-Li Brewhouse }

New media

:: Treasure, Treason and the Tower: El Dorado and the Murder of Sir Walter Raleigh by Paul Sellin ’52

:: Montana Before History: 11,000 Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by Douglas H. MacDonald ’94

:: Academic Motherhood: How Faculty Manage Work and Family by Kelly Ward and Lisa Wolf-Wendel

:: That One Spooky Night by Dan Bar-El, illustrated by David Huyck

On the cover: “Snow White” by Jung Von Matt for Ed. Wüsthof Dreizackwerk KG.

Post-fire landscape in Yosemite National Park. Courtesy Mark Swanson


Post-fire landscape in Yosemite National Park. Courtesy Mark Swanson

Mark Swanson in the Mount St. Helens blast zone. Photo Yasmeen Sands


Mark Swanson in the Mount St. Helens blast zone. Yasmeen Sands

Many plant species don't flower or fruit abundantly until provided with open conditions in the early successional phase. Photo Justin Haug '02


Many plant species don’t flower or fruit abundantly until provided with open conditions in the early successional phase. Justin Haug ’02

The forgotten forest

by | © Washington State University

Early successional forests, the stage following a major disturbance such as fire, windstorm, or harvest, have typically been viewed in terms of what is missing. Considered by the forest industry as a time of reestablishment or “stand initiation,” these early successional forests have been studied from the perspective of plant-community development and the needs of selected animals. Neither view fully grasps the diverse ecological roles of the early successional stage, argue WSU forest ecologist Mark Swanson and colleagues in a 2011 paper in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Forest management throughout the twentieth century focused at first on wood production and later on conservation and development of mature, late successional forests. Early successional forests were considered as only an unfortunate intermediary stage. Such an approach ignored both ecological benefits and historic precedent. Historically, says Swanson, forests on the west side of Cascades and in cooler, wetter parts of the interior West were broken up by large disturbances. Caused by natural occurrences such as fire, storms, and volcanic eruptions, these disturbance patches would move around the landscape. Organisms that rely on early successional habitat would follow.

Instead of a continuous closed canopy across the landscape, the forest would comprise patches of rich early seral conditions interspersed with young forests and patches of old growth. 

“You need that to maintain maximum forest biodiversity,” says Swanson.

“If you have an entire forest landscape in just one age class, you’ll be losing biodiversity that occurs in other age classes. You need a balance of age classes, especially at large spatial scales.”

Many species rely on early successional forest conditions. 

Birds such as black-backed woodpeckers, mountain bluebirds, three-toed woodpeckers, and lazuli buntings thrive in early seral conditions. 

At the national convention of the Ecological Society of America in Portland this August, Swanson reported that 8.8 percent of threatened and endangered species in Washington depend on old growth forest. While not universally accepted, neither is the figure surprising. But Swanson also found that 6.6 percent of threatened and endangered species rely on early successional forests. Furthermore, nearly half of forest-dwelling species on Washington’s list of state-level threatened, endangered, or monitored organisms use the early successional forest for at least some part of their life cycle.

In order to enhance early successional habitat following harvest, Swanson and his colleagues urge leaving some large live trees, leaving or creating snags, and leaving woody debris and some intact understory vegetation. Also, they argue against spraying brush with herbicide and rushing into replanting at high density, at least in landscapes where maintenance of biodiversity is a priority.

One of Swanson’s co-authors on the study was Jerry Franklin, a professor of forestry at the University of Washington and Swanson’s doctoral advisor. Franklin is widely known for his influential work toward understanding successional stages beyond standard timber management. He was instrumental not only in creating awareness of old-growth forest and the values it had to offer, but in greatly influencing policy and management practices. Previously, says Swanson, people tended to devalue old growth, considering it not biologically rich, mainly because it did not provide a lot of game animals. But Franklin called attention to old growth’s role in watershed protection and importance to specialist species like spotted owl and anadromous fish.

Swanson muses, “I wonder if we’re not at the stage with early [successional] forest ecosystems where we were 30 or 40 years ago with old growth in terms of really recognizing how important it is.” 

Categories: Forestry, Environmental studies | Tags: Forest ecology, Early successional forests, Forest management

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