Bottomland Forest restoration brings back rare species
Mon, Feb 21 2011 at 4:37 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
Nashville, Tenn. — Sept. 10, 2010 — Rare animal species are returning to West Tennessee’s restored bottomland forests, according to recent research sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.
Swainson’s warbler, the barking treefrog and the prairie warbler are examples of rare or declining species that have been recently found at sites along rivers where hardwood trees are being replanted and restored in the marshy bottomlands where they used to grow. Additional species found during the study include green heron, southern cricket frog and crawfish frog.
Historically, the rare animals had inhabited many of West Tennessee’s river bottomlands, but widespread removal of trees in decades past had pushed them out of these areas. The recent rare animal discoveries occurred during a two-year research project conducted by Associate Professor Matthew Gray and graduate student Beth Summers from the University of Tennessee’s Wetlands Program in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries. The research project was funded by The Nature Conservancy and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The UT study looked at bird and amphibian occurrences at bottomland forest sites in the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge and at restored bottomland forest sites on public and private lands throughout West Tennessee. The research evaluated how different species are responding to restoration of bottomland forests in West Tennessee.
“This is exactly the kind of success story that we like to see,” says Chris Bridges, The Nature Conservancy’s West Tennessee Program Director. “The Nature Conservancy has had a longtime focus on restoring these bottomland hardwood forests along the Hatchie River. To have high-level research confirm that these recently restored forests are already bringing back rare species is really encouraging. It means that what we and are partners are doing to re-establish the riverine forests of West Tennessee is working.”
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