The basic resources for each objective are found on the PA Envirothon web site.
*Correlations with the Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology are provided.
After completing study on this issue, students will:
Trees a.Identify common species without a key and specific or unusual species of trees or shrubs using a botanical key. (Use of a botanical key is an important skill in many environmental professions. Practice with the Key to Some Common Trees of Pennsylvania.) Pay special attention to shade tolerance and soil moisture requirements of each tree species studied. Understand their timber and wildlife values. *4.3 Natural Resources – 4.3.10.Ab. Explain typical tree growth and life cycle. Be able to describe the parts and tissues of a tree and their arrangements and functions. Recognize defects that effect a tree’s health, quality and resource potential. *4.3 Natural Resourcesc. Explain the cause and effect relationships between environmental factors (light, soil and moisture), and tree growth. Be able to interpret these effects in the growth rings of a sample of wood (either a “tree cookie” or “core” taken with an increment borer). *4.3 Natural Resources
Forest Ecology a. Explain general forest typing based on the dominant tree species. Describe major forests types found in Pennsylvania. Analyze and type a specific forest site. *4.3 Natural Resources – 4.3.10.A, Cb. Explain typical forest structure (canopy, understory and ground layers) and crown classes.c. Explain typical forest succession from open areas to closed canopy and back again. Analyze the successional stage of a specific forest site. *4.1 Ecology – 4.1.10.E *4.3 Natural Resources – 4.3.10.Cd. Explain how wildlife habitat relates to the forest plant community (i.e. tree species present, age structure, snags and dead-and-down trees, availability of food, and riparian zones). *4.1 Ecology – 4.1.10.C, De. Explain what effects a specific species increase or decrease might have on the forest ecosystem. *4.1 Ecology – 4.1.10.E, 4.1.12.Ef. Evaluate species diversity and its importance. Explain biological diversity as an indicator of a healthy environment as well as analyze the effects of species extinction on the health of an ecosystem. *4.1 Ecology – 4.1.10.A, 4.1.12.A
Forest Resource Management and Protection a. Study The State of the Forest 2009 . This is a summary of the most current data available describing Pennsylvania’s forest resources. Particularly note the patterns of forestland ownership, area of forests, distribution of age and size classes and of tree species, wood volume statistics and regeneration issues. Describe the distribution of forest land ownership in Pennsylvania as cited in the “Forest Features” section of this report.b. Describe values and benefits of forests for recreation, wildlife and watershed quality. *4.1.Ecology – 4.1.10.Ac. Explain the uses of silviculture techniques in even-aged and uneven-aged forest management: thinning, clear-cutting, seed-tree method, shelter wood method, and selection method. Describe the practices of “high grading” and “diameter limit” cutting. *4.3 Natural Resources – 4.3.10.A, C, 4.3.12.Cd. Summarize State and local regulations and programs pertaining to timber management including PA Code Chapter 102 Erosion & Sedimentation Control regulations, waterways management regulations – PA Code Chapter 105. *4.2 Watersheds and Wetlands – 4.1.12.A *4.3 Natural Resources – 4.3.10.Be. List products and uses of the 10 important hardwoods grown in Pennsylvania cited in From the Wood Series: Ten Important Hardwoods resource and of the important conifers – White pine and Eastern Hemlock – described in The Common Trees of Pennsylvania. *4.3. Natural Resources – 4.3.10.Af. Explain the value of forestlands as community water sources. Describe the potential for pollution from timber harvesting and the practices used to minimize erosion and sedimentation. *4.2 Watersheds and Wetlands – 4.2.10.A *4.Natural Resources – 4.3.10.A *4.5 Humans and the Environment – 4.5.10.C, 4.5.12.Cg. Demonstrate the use of common forestry equipment (Biltmore stick, diameter tape, and clinometer), to measure tree diameter and height. Be able to calculate wood volume.h. Identify and describe the life cycle and impacts of common forest pests and invasive plants listed in the resources. Research integrated pest management strategies for selected pests. *4.5 Humans and the Environment – 4.5.10.B, 4.5.12.Bi. Predict how human or natural action can produce change to which an organism cannot adapt (Gypsy Moth, Chestnut blight, invasive species, etc.) *4.1 Ecology – 4.1.10.A,, 4.1.12.Aj. Explain the role of fire in forest ecosystems. Describe the basic principles of wildfire prevention and control. Explain the use of prescribed fire. *4.1 Ecology – 4.1.10.E
Community Forestry a. Describe the benefits of maintaining trees in urban and suburban communities and factors affecting their health and survival. *4.1 Ecology – 4.1.10.A
Most of these materials are excerpted from publications produced by the Pennsylvania State University or from the USDA Forest Service. Many topics are covered more than once in different ways. So the volume of material is not as overwhelming as it might appear at first glance.
The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences – School of Forest Resources provides a Sustainable Forestry Teacher Resource Center which includes lesson plans in sustainable forestry, natural resources, water, and wildlife. The lesson plans have been designed by teachers for actual use in the classroom and meet Pennsylvania’s environment and ecology education standards. Each lesson plan indicates subject matter, grade level, and regional applicability. The lesson plans can be adapted to fit your location. These resources can be found at http://sftrc.cas.psu.edu/.
Additional sources: The following books contain helpful information, illustrations and background materials. They are available in libraries and bookstores.
Peterson Field Guide Series, Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
A Field Guide to Eastern Forests, by John C. Kricher and Gordon Morrison. Good coverage of several complex topics. The most pertinent sections are:
Chapter 2: Forestry Field Marks for Stratification; Predicting a Forest’s Future; The Forest Food Chain and Ecological Pyramid
Chapter 4: Disturbance and Pioneer Plants covers “Ecological Succession: The process of Vegetation Development Over Time”
Chapter 8. Autumn and Winter has a few paragraphs on “Tree Trunks and Growth Rings” that may
For help with tree identification try these titles also from the Peterson Field Guides series:
A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs, by George A. Petrides
A Field Guide to Eastern Trees by George A. Petrides/Janet Wehr
I-Tree – I-Tree is a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools.
leafsnap – Leafsnap is a series of electronic field guides being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. The free mobile apps use visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.