MFFCD.jpg (22122 bytes)

Home Page
Welcome Page
Table of Contents
Benchmark Matrix
Pre-test Information
Tree Basics Section
Environment Section
Recreation Section
Products Section
Balance Section
Internet Links
References
Credits

Index

 

MICHIGAN FORESTS FOREVER TEACHERS GUIDE

 


TREE DIVERSITY WITHIN
MICHIGAN FOREST TYPES
    
1TreeSign.jpg (13229 bytes)

There are many ways to categorize differences within the forest.  One of the more commonly used classifications is that implemented by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest Inventory and Analysis Unit (FIA).  In Michigan, there are 15 forest types labeled according to their dominate tree species.  Species diversity varies naturally between forest types.  Human influence has also impacted species diversity.  Tree species diversity may, or may not, reflect the diversity of plant forms, but might serve well as a preliminary indicator.  Lastly, the FIA figures are for each forest type on a statewide basis.  Every stand of trees belonging to a particular forest type will not display the same level of diversity as other stands within the forest type.  Geography, stand history, soils, water, and other factors create variability within a particular forest type. 

Acreage and Number of Tree Species Recorded in the Forest Types of Michigan
Forest Type Acres #Species Forest Type Acres #Species
 Northern Hardwoods
 Oak-Hickory
 Elm-Ash Cottonwood
 Aspen
 Red Pine
 Northern White Cedar
 Paper Birch
 Balsam Fir

7,161
1,982
1,627
2,676
897
1,349
292
563

71
63
57
50
40
36
35
32

 White Pine
 Scotch Pine
 Balm-of-Gilead
 Jack Pine
 White Spruce
 Black Spruce
 Tamarack

234
147
190
846
147
465
149

32
32
27
26
25
22
22

Source:  FIA data, 1992

The forest type with the highest number of tree species is the northern hardwoods, typified by maple, basswood, beech, and yellow birch.  Seventy-one tree species have been recorded within northern hardwood stands across Michigan.   It is the most common forest type in Michigan and continues to become more common as time passes.  The northern hardwood type is generally at the later stages of forest succession

The forest types with the least number of tree species is tamarack and black spruce.  These stands tend to be highly dominated by either tamarack or black spruce, with 21 other species occurring.  These stands typically grow on wetland sites where fewer tree species can survive.  However, these two species grow in many different forest types, as we'll examine further down this page.

The simple number of tree species is only one way of looking at diversity.  The idea of "species richness" is important, too.  Richness has to do with how dominant a few species are.  For example, two stands may each have 1,000 trees of 25 tree species.  In one stand, each species may have an equal number of trees, or 40 trees per species.  This would be a species "rich" stand.  The second stand may have 5 species that have 100 trees each, and the remaining 20 species have only 25 trees each.  This stand would less "rich". 

If we look at Michigan's 15 forest types using a tree species richness measure, the most diverse forest type is swamp hardwoods (elm-ash-cottonwood).  The least diverse type would be jack pine.

Tree Species Richness in Michigan Forest Types

Forest Type

Five Most Common Tree Species
Percent Volume of
Top Five Species
Elm-Ash-Cottonwood
Northern Hardwoods
Balsam Fir
Paper Birch
Aspen
Oak-Hickory
White Spruce
Black Spruce
White Pine
Scotch Pine
Northern White Cedar
Balm-of-Gilead
Red Pine
Tamarack
Jack Pine
Red Maple, Silver Maple, Black Ash, Green Ash, Cedar
Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Basswood, Hemlock, Beech
Balsam Fir, White Spruce, Quaking Aspen, Cedar, Paper Birch
Paper Birch, Red Maple, Quaking Aspen, Cedar, Balsam Fir
Quaking Aspen, Bigtooth Aspen, Red Maple, Paper Birch, Balsam Fir
N.Red Oak, White Oak, Black Oak, Red Maple, Bigtooth Aspen
White Spruce, Quaking Aspen, Paper Birch, Balsam Fir, White Pine
Black Spruce, Tamarack, White Pine, Balsam Fir, Cedar
White Pine, Red Pine, Red Maple, Quaking Aspen, Paper Birch
Scotch Pine, Red Pine, Black Cherry, White Pine, Balm-of-Gilead
Cedar, Balsam Fir, Paper Birch, Red Maple, Black Spruce
Balm-of-Gilead, Cedar, Balsam Fir, Quaking Aspen, Paper Birch
Red Pine, White Pine, Jack Pine, N.Red Oak, Red Maple
Tamarack, Cedar, Black Spruce, White Pine, Balsam Fir
Jack Pine, Red Pine, N.Red Oak, White Pine, Quaking Aspen

58
64
69
75
75
76
76
77
78
81
82
86
90
91
93

Source:  FIA data, 1992

Yet another way to look at forest tree diversity is the species distribution across different forest types.  For example, sugar maple, beech, and basswood are largely restricted to northern hardwood stands.  They are seldom found in other forest types.  On the other hand, most of the white spruce volume is not found in white spruce stands.  The following table shows how much volume of a particular species is found within its "typical" forest type.  Species with high percents may be good indicators of a single forest type.  Species with low percents are not very good indicators, but have the ability to survive across a wide spectrum of site conditions and forest associates.  This concept is commonly used to identify understory species, particularly wildflowers, that can be used to indicate certain site conditions and productivity.  Wildflowers are frequently better indicators than trees. 

Forest Type Association Preferences for Common Michigan Tree Species
Species Forest Type Percent of Volume
in Forest Type
Species Forest Type Percent of Volume
in Forest Type
Sugar Maple
Beech
Basswood
Hemlock
Yellow Birch
Silver Maple
Red Pine
Black Oak
White Oak
White Ash
Jack Pine
Black Cherry
Cedar
N.Red Oak
Scotch Pine
Northern Hardwoods
Northern Hardwoods
Northern Hardwoods
Northern Hardwoods
Northern Hardwoods
Swamp Hardwoods
Red Pine
Oak-Hickory
Oak-Hickory
Northern Hardwoods
Jack Pine
Northern Hardwoods
Cedar
Oak-Hickory
Scotch Pine

95
95
89
87
85
83
79
78
77
76
73
71
70
65
65

Red Maple
Cottonwood
Bigtooth Aspen
Green Ash
Quaking Aspen
Black Ash
Black Spruce
Tamarack
Balm-of-Gilead
American Elm
White Pine
Paper Birch
Balsam Fir
White Spruce
Northern Hardwoods
Swamp Hardwoods
Aspen
Swamp Hardwoods
Aspen
Swamp Hardwoods
Black Spruce
Tamarack
Balm-of-Gilead
Swamp Hardwoods
White Pine
Paper Birch
Balsam Fir
White Spruce

61
60
57
56
55
54
46
34
32
31
27
23
23
15

Source:  FIA data, 1992, for tree species with at least 100,000 cubic of volume in Michigan.

 

   SCIENCE
S.III.2.ms1 (new MCF)
S.III.5.ms1
S.III.5.ms4

Return to TOP of Page


MSUElogo.tif (16254 bytes) This website was developed and created by Michigan State University Extension for the teachers of the State of Michigan.  The website is maintained by the Delta-Schoolcraft Independent School District in support of the Michigan Forests Forever CD-ROM from the Michigan Forest Resource Alliance.

Page Name:   TreeDiversity.htm
Please provide comments to Bill Cook:  cookwi@msu.edu or 786-1575