Introduction: what are early successional habitats, why are they important, and how can they be sustained? Chapter 1.
There is a rising concern among natural resource scientists and managers about decline of the many plant and animal species associated with early successional habitats. There is no concise definition of early successional habitats. However, all have a well developed ground cover or shrub and young tree component, lack a closed, mature tree canopy, and are created or maintained by intense or recurring disturbances. Most ecologists and environmentalists agree that disturbances and early successional habitats are important to maintain the diverse flora and fauna native to deciduous eastern forests. Indeed, many species, including several listed as endangered, threatened, sensitive, or of management concern, require the openness and thick cover that early successional habitats can provide. Management of early successional habitats can be based on the "historic natural range of variation", or can involve active forest management based on goals. In this book, expert scientists and experienced land managers synthesize knowledge and original scientific work to address critical questions on many topics related to early successional habitats in the Central Hardwood Region. Our aim is to collate information about early successional habitats, to aid researchers and resource management professionals in their quest to sustain wildlife and plant species that depend on or utilize these habitats.