Linking Science and Practice for Oak Ecosystem Recovery in the Chicago Wilderness Region
Digitization StatusBorn digital
AbstractDuring the Euro-American settlement of the Chicago region in the 1830s, the majority of the native vegetation was dramatically modified by human activity. In a relatively short period of time, 83% of the original oak ecosystems had been converted to other land uses (Fahey et al. 2015). The documentation and scientific knowledge of these native oaks ecosystems, before they were converted, is limited. What was the structure and composition of these native oak ecosystems? How did they function? How did they regenerate? We lost not only the original ecosystems but also the ability to understand them and their natural cycles of expansion and contraction. Oaks are keystone species for many organisms, from insects to squirrels to fungi, forming the base of ecosystem biodiversity. Because these ecosystems have seen dramatic reduction in their area and connectivity, we clearly need to make active management decisions for the improvement and maintenance of these highly disturbed and threatened ecosystems.