What Lives in the Forest?
is home to 60 species of mammals, 226 species of birds, 17 species of
reptiles, 18 species of amphibians, 69 species of fish, more than 500
species of spiders, 110 species of mollusks and more than 15,000 species
Suitable habitat for Maine’s wildlife requires food, shelter, water and space appropriate for each species. Forest practices influence wildlife primarily through their effects on food and cover. Our wildlife species require a wide variety of habitats, indicating the need for diversity in our forests, including brush and seedlings, mature trees, hardwoods, spruce and fir, young stands and dead and dying trees.
Moose, Maine’s state
animal, need dense, soggy wooded areas with swamps or lakes. Preferred
habitat is mature balsam fir and white birch, regenerating stands and
young aspen. Moose spend summers near water foraging on aquatic plants
and winters browsing in mixed hardwood-conifer forests.
Black Bears inhabit
deciduous, coniferous and mixed forest types
Note: Maine has the largest moose and black bear populations in the continental U.S.)
Grouse thrive in young
forests, old fields and moist woodlands in early stages of succession
near fields and clearings. Scattered evergreens in the understory
provide the best cover.
Snowshoe Hares require the dense cover of thickets in deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests. They need dense shrubby cover for browse and even denser regenerating evergreen cover for protection from predators.
Lynx are uncommon in northern and western Maine. (Maine, Washington, Montana and Alaska are the only states with lynx populations.) In Maine they can be found in mixed northern forests significantly composed primarily of early successional habitat caused by logging, fire or insect damage. Lynx populations rise and fall with snowshoe hare abundance, their main source of food.
Northern Redback Salamanders live in well-drained forest habitats. They prefer moist areas under logs, stumps, rocks, piles of woody debris and leaf litter and bark. They hibernate in soil, deep leaf litter or rock crevices.
American Marten need large hollow trees or logs and subterranean dens in a variety of forested habitats. They do well in spruce, fir and hemlock forests, cedar swamps, dense mixed hardwood-conifer forests and forests with a lot of standing trees damaged by a native insect, the spruce budworm.
Barred Owls require moist, mature forests or forested wetlands with large, cavity trees. They prefer forest with an open understory for nesting and foraging.
Beavers are the largest
rodents in North America and the only species that creates its own
habitat. They prefer slow flowing brooks, rivers and lakes bordered by
woodland. Beavers use young hardwoods such as aspen and alder for dam
building and eat the bark of deciduous trees such as birches. A family
of beavers might eat a ton (2000 pounds) of bark during the winter.
Trees As Food
is any nut, seed or fruit produced by woody plants and eaten by
wildlife. Mast is nutritious, containing more fat and protein than other
plant foods. Hard seeds such as acorns from oak trees and beechnuts from
beech trees are known as hard mast. Mice, voles, chipmunks, deer, bears,
turkeys and even wood ducks and blue jays consume acorns in great
Draw a picture of a forest.
Rare habitats are often homes for rare species. A pitch pine-scrub oak barren is an example of a unique forest ecosystem where a variety of rare Maine species can be found. Some examples of rare forest wildlife species that live there include the Edward’s hairstreak butterfly, the Pine Barrens Zanclognatha moth and the Twilight moth. Many other butterflies and moths are also found only in these barrens where their larvae feed on the foliage of pitch pine or scrub oak trees.
#22: Trees As Habitat
Activity #87: Earth Manners
Children are naturally curious about their environment. They should be encouraged to explore the out-of-doors, while having respect for life in all habitats. In this activity students will develop a set of guidelines for exploring and enjoying nature.