LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.



 
Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Assistant Ecologist
608-266-7714

Northern Mesic Forest

State Rank: S4     Global Rank: G4   what are these ranks?

Definition

General natural community overview

Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for Northern Mesic Forest in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database.

Prior to Euro-American settlement, Northern Mesic Forest covered the largest acreage of any Wisconsin vegetation type. While still extensive today, its character is very different from that seen by early settlers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, primarily as a result of past and current management (see Seral Stages). Scattered small pockets of older Northern Mesic Forest persist today, and some second-growth examples are beginning to develop old forest attributes. Large acreages are managed for pulp and sawtimber. Collectively, Northern Mesic Forests provide important habitat for wildlife and plants across large portions of Wisconsin.

Northern Mesic Forest forms the matrix for most of the other community types found in northern Wisconsin. It is found primarily north of the Tension Zone on loamy soils of glacial till plains and moraines deposited by the Wisconsin glaciation. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is dominant or co-dominant in most stands, regardless of their age or origin. Historically, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) was the second most important species, sometimes occurring in nearly pure stands with eastern white pine (Pinus strobus); both of these conifer species are greatly reduced in today's forests. American beech (Fagus grandifolia) can be a co-dominant with sugar maple (Acer saccharum) in the counties near Lake Michigan. Other important tree species are yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), basswood (Tilia americana), and white ash (Fraxinus americana), although yellow birch reproduction has become scarce in most stands.

Characteristic subcanopy trees include balsam fir (Abies balsamea), ironwood (Carpinus caroliniana), and American elm (Ulmus americana). The shrub layer includes species such as alternate-leaved dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), leatherwood (Dirca palustris), American fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), prickly gooseberry (Ribes cynosbati), red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), and maple-leaved arrow-wood (Viburnum acerifolium). Historically, Canada yew (Taxus canadensis) was an important shrub, but it is now absent from nearly all of its previous range, mostly due to deer browse. The groundlayer varies from sparse and species poor in hemlock stands with wood ferns (Dryopteris intermedia), blue-bead lily (Clintonia borealis), club-mosses (Lycopodium spp.), and Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), to lush and species-rich with fine spring ephemeral displays of species such as large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Dutchman's-breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), and trout lilies (Erythronium spp.). Other characteristic species include white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), downy Solomon's-seal (Polygonatum pubescens), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), rose twisted stalk (Streptopus roseus), starflower (Trientalis borealis), maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), and lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina).

The predominant historic disturbance regimes consisted of windthrow that semi-regularly created small forest gaps and, less frequently, large windstorms that downed large acreages of trees. Windthrow still occurs today, and is an important source of coarse woody debris, which is crucial as a seed bed or nurse log for species like hemlock and yellow birch; it is also important in nutrient cycling and for wildlife habitat. After old-growth stands were harvested during the Cutover (late 1800's to 1932), slash fires affected many areas, resulting in a shift towards species such as aspen, paper birch, and red maple. These tree species are still commonly found in many second-growth northern mesic forests today. In general, though, many stands currently lack tree species diversity after many decades of traditional hardwood management which tends to favor the extremely shade-tolerant sugar maple.

Four different seral stages are described for Northern Mesic Forest, based on the progressive stages of forest regeneration following harvesting or a major natural disturbance from young forest to the attainment of reference conditions as seen in a mature stand. Stands with more than 50 percent aspen by basal area fall into the Aspen habitat type. For stands dominated by planted conifers, refer to the Conifer Plantation type.

  • Northern Mesic Forest--late seral: Late-seral (may also be referred to as Old or Old Growth) Northern Mesic Forests have older trees, high structural diversity, and higher species diversity, and may have scattered, long-lived conifers. Trees of all sizes and age classes are present, including scattered individuals 18-24 inches in diameter at breast height (dbh) or more. Old growth canopy trees can range in age from 75-300 years, with the average age between 115 and 175 years. Late seral mesic forests often have a complex, multi-layered canopy with natural gaps present. Other important structural attributes include abundant snags and cavity trees and significant coarse woody debris in various stages of decomposition, which contribute significant habitat for Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and sites for seedling establishment of hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) dominates most sites, but large basswood (Tilia americana) and red oak (Quercus rubra) may also be present, along with scattered yellow birch and white ash (Fraxinus americana). Hemlock and white pine (Pinus strobus) may occur as scattered individuals; other stands may be dominated by hemlock, and small groves of older hemlock can be dotted throughout older hardwood stands. Conifers are an important component for many SGCN, providing thermal cover, nest and den sites, nesting material, as well as decay-resistant snags and coarse woody debris. Late-seral mesic forests includes older passively managed stands, stands actively managed for old growth conditions and virgin "reference condition" forests. Although the latter is exceptionally rare on the Wisconsin landscape, it provides a glimpse of the range of structural diversity possible in this forest type, particularly the size and density of cavity trees, snags, and coarse woody debris. Important site-level characteristics that benefit SGCN at this seral stage include large trees that serve as nest sites (e.g., for forest raptors), standing live and dead trees, an abundance of decaying coarse woody debris, and a diverse understory (e.g., for northern flying squirrel), coniferous trees in the understory and overstory (e.g., for Swainson's thrush and evening grosbeak), and soils with thick duff layer and minimal damage from non-native earthworms (e.g., that support a wide variety of snails as well as rare plants).
  • Northern Mesic Forest--mid seral: Mid-seral Northern Mesic Forests are dominated by trees 11-15+ inches dbh, though occasional older, larger trees may also be present. Young saplings may be present as stands transition into what foresters term the understory re-initiation phase, and the forest takes on uneven-aged characteristics, though these forests typically still lack the complex structural and species diversity found in older stands. While most sites are dominated by sugar maple (Acer saccharum), other species such as basswood (Tilia americana), red oak (Quercus rubra), American elm (Ulmus americana), white ash (Fraxinus americana), and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) may also be present. Groves of old hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) may be embedded within mid-seral forests as well. If trees are allowed to age beyond typical rotation age, stands will mature and may "break apart," creating snags, coarse woody debris and multi-aged structure that benefit Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) that prefer mature forests. Techniques can be applied to managed stands to try to achieve these results, as well. Important site-level characteristics that benefit SGCN at this seral stage include large trees that serve as nest sites (e.g., for forest raptors), trees with cavities or cracks that serve as roost sites (e.g., for several species of bats), and rich soils with thick duff layer (e.g., that support host plants such as the two-leaved toothwort (Cardamine diphylla), the host plant for the West Virginia white butterfly).
  • Northern Mesic Forest--early seral: Early-seral Northern Mesic Forests are dominated by trees 5-11 inches dbh and may be even aged or two-aged, fitting into what foresters term the stem exclusion phase as competition inhibits new saplings and shrubs. Stands may provide relatively high, consistent canopy cover, but lack the larger trees as well as the species and structural complexity of older forests. Snags and coarse woody debris are typically sparse except for legacy trees. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is often dominant, while red oak (Quercus rubra), red maple (Acer rubrum), basswood (Tilia americana), and white ash (Fraxinus americana) may also present. Aspen (Populus spp.) and birch (Betula spp.) may be present in small patches as well, especially in forests specifically managed to promote them. Important site-level characteristics that benefit Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and rare plants at this seral stage include coarse woody debris and mossy logs around ephemeral ponds and seeps (e.g., for four-toed salamander) closed canopy forest (e.g., for least flycatcher), and a thick duff layer with minimal damage from non-native earthworms (e.g., for snails and rare ferns).
  • Northern Mesic Forest--young seral: Young Northern Mesic Forests are dominated by trees ranging from 0-5 inches dbh. They typically originate from stand-replacing events such as clear-cutting, coppicing, or a catastrophic blow-down, creating an even-aged stand through what foresters term the stand initiation phase of forest development. Typically, tree species diversity is low and dominated by sugar maple (Acer saccharum), sometimes with an aspen (Populus spp.) or birch (Betula spp.) component. Other northern hardwoods tree species may be present as well, including red oak (Quercus rubra), red maple (Acer rubrum), basswood (Tilia americana), and white ash (Fraxinus americana), depending on the site. Coarse woody debris is typically sparse except for old, highly decayed legacy logs on the forest floor. However, fresh coarse wood may be abundant in stands originating from blow-down, provided the stands have not been salvage logged. Although unusual, such unsalvaged blow-down stands may have hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) reproduction where seed source is abundant (e.g., Kemp Natural Resources Station in Oneida County). However, factors such as local deer abundance and weather conditions may limit natural regeneration of these species. Important site-level characteristics that benefit the most Species of Greatest Conservation Need at this seral stage include proximity to more mature forest for foraging, dense groundcover and abundance decaying coarse wood (e.g., for woodland jumping mouse) and a thick duff layer with minimal damage from non-native earthworms (e.g., for snails as well as rare ferns).

In describing these stages, it is recognized that they exist and persist on the landscape due to a marked range of conditions depending on conservation or production goals and the nature and intensity of management. Even the most basic actions of promoting natural regeneration carry the weight of this reality: in an area where the purpose is strictly forest production, the decision to rotate and replant may be relatively straightforward, but on a site managed all or in part for ecological values the prescription and stand rotation is more complex.

Rare animals

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

The following Species of Greatest Conservation Need are listed according to their level of association with the Northern Mesic Forest natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = high association, 2 = moderate association, and 1 = low association. See the key to association scores for complete definitions.

AmphibiansLateMidEarlyYoung
Four-toed SalamanderHemidactylium scutatum3333
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris1111
Mink FrogLithobates septentrionalis1111

Ants, wasps, and beesLateMidEarlyYoung
Rusty-patched Bumble BeeBombus affinis1111
Confusing Bumble BeeBombus perplexus1111
Yellowbanded Bumble BeeBombus terricola1111
Sanderson's Bumble BeeBombus sandersoni1121
Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumble BeeBombus insularis1111

Aquatic and terrestrial snailsLateMidEarlyYoung
Cherrystone DropHendersonia occulta3311
Appalachian PillarCochlicopa morseana331
Hubricht's VertigoVertigo hubrichti22
Eastern Flat-whorlPlanogyra asteriscus2
Boreal TopZoogenetes harpa2
Brilliant GranuleGuppya sterkii32
Sculpted GlyphGlyphyalinia rhoadsi231
Bright GlyphGlyphyalinia wheatleyi221
Dentate SupercoilParavitrea multidentata3323
Ribbed StriateStriatura exigua331
Black StriateStriatura ferrea121

BirdsLateMidEarlyYoung
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilis3321
Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatus221
American WoodcockScolopax minor1223
Long-eared OwlAsio otus1122
Eastern Whip-poor-willAntrostomus vociferus11
Red-headed WoodpeckerMelanerpes erythrocephalus1
Black-backed WoodpeckerPicoides arcticus1111
Olive-sided FlycatcherContopus cooperi1111
Acadian FlycatcherEmpidonax virescens1
Least FlycatcherEmpidonax minimus3331
Boreal ChickadeePoecile hudsonicus1
Swainson's ThrushCatharus ustulatus211
Golden-winged WarblerVermivora chrysoptera1112
Cerulean WarblerSetophaga cerulea11
Rusty BlackbirdEuphagus carolinus1
Evening GrosbeakCoccothraustes vespertinus3321

Butterflies and mothsLateMidEarlyYoung
West Virginia WhitePieris virginiensis3322
Semirelict Underwing MothCatocala semirelicta1111

Grasshoppers and alliesLateMidEarlyYoung
Bruner's Spur-throat GrasshopperMelanoplus bruneri1121
Forest LocustMelanoplus islandicus2222
Crackling Forest GrasshopperTrimerotropis verruculata2211
Spotted-winged GrasshopperOrphulella pelidna1111
Speckled Rangeland GrasshopperArphia conspersa1111
Clear-winged GrasshopperCamnula pellucida1111

MammalsLateMidEarlyYoung
Water ShrewSorex palustris2222
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus221
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis221
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans221
Northern Flying SquirrelGlaucomys sabrinus321
Woodland Jumping MouseNapaeozapus insignis3332
American MartenMartes americana321

ReptilesLateMidEarlyYoung
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta3333

Please see Section 2. Approach and Methods of the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."
Scientific Name Common Name Late Mid Early Young
Acer pensylvanicum Striped Maple 3 3 3
Adlumia fungosa Climbing Fumitory 3 3 3 2
Aplectrum hyemale Putty Root 2 2 2
Asplenium trichomanes Maidenhair Spleenwort 2 2 2 2
Astragalus neglectus Cooper's Milkvetch 2 2 2 1
Botrychium lunaria Common Moonwort 2 2 2 2
Botrychium minganense Mingan's Moonwort 3 3 3 1
Botrychium mormo Little Goblin Moonwort 3 3 3 2
Carex backii Rocky Mountain Sedge 3 3 3
Carex novae-angliae New England Sedge 2 2 2 2
Carex platyphylla Broad-leaf Sedge 3 3 3 1
Carex prasina Drooping Sedge 3 3 3 3
Cystopteris laurentiana Laurentian Bladder Fern 2 2 2 2
Dryopteris expansa Spreading Woodfern 2 2 2 1
Dryopteris filix-mas Male Fern 3 3 3 1
Goodyera oblongifolia Giant Rattlesnake-plantain 3 3 3 1
Homalosorus pycnocarpos Glade Fern 2 2 2 1
Huperzia porophila Rock Clubmoss 2 2 2
Juglans cinerea Butternut 3 3 3 3
Leucophysalis grandiflora Large-flowered Ground-cherry 1 1 1 1
Listera convallarioides Broad-leaved Twayblade 3 3 3
Melica smithii Smith's Melic Grass 3 3 3 1
Phegopteris hexagonoptera Broad Beech Fern 3 3 2 1
Poa wolfii Wolf's Bluegrass 2 2
Polystichum acrostichoides Christmas Fern 3 3 3 2
Polystichum braunii Braun's Holly-fern 3 3 3 1
Sceptridium oneidense Blunt-lobe Grape-fern 3 3 3 2
Tiarella cordifolia Heartleaf Foamflower 3 3
Viola rostrata Long-spurred Violet 3 3 3 3
Viola striata Striped Violet 2 2 2 2
Yellow Specklebelly Pseudocyphellaria crocata 3

Landscapes

The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for Northern Mesic Forest, based on the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin Handbook.


Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.


Major (3 on map)
A major opportunity for sustaining the natural community in the Ecological Landscape exists, either because many significant occurrences of the natural community have been recorded in the landscape or major restoration activities are likely to be successful maintaining the community's composition, structure, and ecological function over a longer period of time.

Important (2 on map)
Although the natural community does not occur extensively or commonly in the Ecological Landscape, one to several occurrences do occur and are important in sustaining the community in the state. In some cases, important opportunities may exist because the natural community may be restricted to just one or a few Ecological Landscapes within the state and there may be a lack of opportunities elsewhere.

Present (1 on map)
The natural community occurs in the Ecological Landscape, but better management opportunities appear to exist in other parts of the state.

Threats/Actions

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

What are conservation actions?

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for natural communities

Considerations

The following are additional considerations for Northern Mesic Forest in Ecological Landscapes with opportunities for protection, restoration, and/or management. For more information, see the Wildlife Action Plan.

Central Lake Michigan Coastal

Point Beach supports a small area of this type on stabilized dunes. Upland islands within the floodplain of the Wolf River also support this type. Eastern hemlock is at its southern range limit here, and American beech is at its western range limit. Fragmentation is a major issue in this Ecological Landscape since upland forest is only 7% of the landscape within a matrix of agriculture. Residential development is further fragmenting and simplifying this community type. Invasives such as Asian honeysuckles and buckthorns are a problem. Emerald ash borer may become a threat to ash trees in the Ecological Landscape. Grazing can be a problem affecting regeneration, destruction of understory plants, and the spread of invasives. There are limited opportunities, but additional high quality sites should be protected where they exist. Grazing on forested lands should be discouraged.

Central Sand Plains

Northern mesic forest is extremely limited in this Ecological Landscape, but there are patches of older forest with conifers at the southern edge of their range limits. Patch sizes are small; most are farm woodlots. Fragmentation is a major issue for these sites. Invasives such as garlic mustard and buckthorns are a problem. The high-quality remaining site of this community type on Big Island near Wisconsin Rapids in the Wisconsin River should be protected.

Forest Transition

Fragmentation is a major issue in this Ecological Landscape due to the past conversion of forest to agricultural uses. Upland forest is now typically found in a matrix of farmland, except for the eastern portion of this Ecological Landscape that includes portions of the Menominee Reservation and Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forests. This Ecological Landscape has little public land, so residential development is further fragmenting and simplifying this community type. In addition, the lack of public land hinders protection, restoration, and/or management at any scale. Grazing in this forest type can create problems by eliminating some plant species and reducing forest regeneration. Invasives such as buckthorn are a serious problem. The eastern edge of this Ecological Landscape contains some of the most significant examples of extensive older forest in the state, primarily on the Menominee Indian Reservation and to a lesser degree on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. South Branch Beech Grove in Oconto County is an occurrence found in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and the Dalles of the Eau Claire River County Park (Marathon County) is another example. Eastern hemlock should be preserved within this Ecological Landscape; the western portion of the Ecological Landscape includes the edge of eastern hemlock$apos;s range. Rib Mountain State Park has potential for developing scarce older forest in a part of the Ecological Landscape with little public land. Deer density in Rib Mountain State Park should be reduced to allow forest regeneration. Older forests in this Ecological Landscape are desirable, especially if they are contained in or linked with large blocks of forest.

North Central Forest

Although fragmentation is a concern in some parts of this Ecological Landscape, especially in areas where residential development and road construction is currently expanding, it still provides the best opportunities for maintaining large blocks of northern mesic forest. There are also opportunities to implement other conservation actions (e.g., encourage species and structural diversity, achieve balanced age-class distributions) because of the abundance of the type and the large public ownership. Important existing sites include the Bose Lake Hemlock-Hardwood State Natural Area, Anvil Lake Hardwoods, and Moose Lake State Natural Area; the Doering Tract on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest; and Catherine Lake, a proposed State Natural Area on the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. Efforts should be made to maintain or enhance connectivity among large forested areas, including the National Forests and the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, and create linkages with the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan.

Northeast Sands

Fragmentation is less of an issue in northern mesic forests of this Ecological Landscape. However, this community type is concentrated in the southwest portion of the Ecological Landscape and is not widespread. Older forests occur on the Menominee Reservation; additional areas on other lands are desirable, especially stands with a conifer component.

Northern Highland

Fragmentation is also less of an issue in this Ecological Landscape. The Northern Highland Ecological Landscape has a high degree of natural heterogeneity, including complexes of different forest types, wetlands and lakes. Natural ecotones are an important feature. The northern mesic forest community type is not widespread within the Ecological Landscape, but older age-classes are present, including stands with eastern hemlock and eastern white pine components, which should be protected. Overall, stands of this community type should be protected and surrounding lands should be managed compatibly. Examples of the community type are present on the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. Invasives such as non-native honeysuckles, buckthorns, and garlic mustard have the potential to become a problem and should be monitored.

Northern Lake Michigan Coastal

Fragmentation is a serious issue in this Ecological Landscape. Invasives are also a serious problem (e.g., garlic mustard is established in many locations) and grazing occurs in some areas (e.g., Door County). Very high recreational use in Door County is a factor in many kinds of impacts, including trail development that leads to spread of invasives, and fragmentation due to housing and roads. The level of deer herbivory is extremely high, partly because hunting access is restricted in many areas, and deer population levels are well over goal. The northern mesic forest community type was once widespread here, but the Ecological Landscape is now 63% non-forested. Meridian County Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park, and Rock Island State Park contain examples of the community type in this Ecological Landscape. There are a few larger blocks of second-growth forest that have not been thoroughly evaluated (mostly on the west side of Green Bay on Lake Michigan). Older aged forests are present, primarily on the Door Peninsula, but are scarce west of Green Bay. Additional areas of older forest are desirable, especially stands with white pine and/or hemlock components.

Northwest Lowlands

Fragmentation is less of an issue in this Ecological Landscape, in part because road density is the lowest, on average, of all the Ecological Landscapes, which is important for some large mammals (e.g., gray wolf). This Ecological Landscape has a high degree of natural heterogeneity, including complexes of different forest types and wetlands. Upland-to-wetland natural ecotones are an important feature. Connectivity should be increased where needed and feasible. Older forests are scarce in this Ecological Landscape and should be increased, especially stands with a conifer component. Opportunities to re-establish conifers where they are absent or scarce should be identified. Eastern hemlock should be maintained where it occurs at the eastern edge of the Ecological Landscape. County forests currently provide adequate amounts of early successional habitat. If possible, deer numbers should be lowered to goal. Invasives are not a large problem at present, but should be monitored.

Superior Coastal Plain

In this Ecological Landscape, this type is well-developed only on the Apostle Islands and in the northern and eastern portion of the Bayfield Peninsula. Much of this type converted to aspen following the Cutover. Old forest is lacking in some locations on the northern Bayfield Peninsula. Japanese knotweed is becoming a problem throughout the mainland portion of the Ecological Landscape, and buckthorns are locally established and likely to spread. The high deer population is causing damage to vegetation at some locations (e.g., Madeline Island, mainland). Canada yew is threatened on the mainland. Old growth forest that occurs on some former lighthouse reservations, now part of the National Lakeshore, should be protected. Canada yew and other browse-sensitive species are abundant on some of the Apostle Islands where deer populations are low. Opportunities to re-establish conifers where they are absent or scarce should be sought. Eastern hemlock, northern white cedar, and yellow birch should be maintained and restored where appropriate. Opportunities to protect or restore older forests on the mainland should be identified. Higher terraces that do not frequently flood have rich mesic hardwood forests with high plant diversity and species occurrences uncommon this far north; some are in or approaching old-growth status (e.g., Nemadji and Bad Rivers). County forests currently provide adequate amounts of early successional habitat. Recovery of conifers in stands damaged by fire and heavy Cutover era logging on the islands should be monitored and studied. Deer numbers should be reduced to goal, if possible. Recreational uses should be limited to control damage to sensitive, highly erodible soils.

Photos


Northern Mesic Forest Photos

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Floristically rich mesic sugar maple-basswood forests occur on high terraces associated with a few of the large rivers in the Superior Coastal Plain.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Floristically rich mesic sugar maple-basswood forests occur on high terraces associated with a few of the large rivers in the Superior Coastal Plain.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Rich morthern mesic hardwood forest of sugar maple-basswood on "tongue" between meanders of the Bad River, Bad River Reservation, Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern mesic forest, northeast of Soo Line Trestle, Bad River, Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern wet-mesic forest with groundlayer that includes Allium, Dicintra Malturcia, Laportue, Equisetum alvense. Bad River Bottoms.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern wet-mesic forest with groundlayer that includes Allium, Dicintra Malturcia, Laportue, Equisetum alvense. Bad River Bottoms.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern wet-mesic forest ground flora with Isopyrum, Allium, Douglas County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Steep north-facing slope on south side of Echo Lake with excellent hemlock regeneration under pole-sized hardwoods in northern mesic forest. Chequamegon - Nicolet National Forest, Forest County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern mesic forest with large beech, hemlock saplings. Deadman Kapo, Menominee Reservation, Menominee County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Nourse's Sugar Bush in northern mesic forest with advanced regeneration of sugar maple. Bayfield County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Virgin hardwoods in Northern Mesic Forest, north end of Oak Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

White pine regeneration in gaps of conifer dominated stand in northern mesic forest. Dunn Lake State Natural Area, Vilas County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

This diverse, structurally complex stand of older northern mesic forest is composed of hemlock, yellow birch, sugar maple, white-cedar, and white pine, among others. Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern mesic forest with yellow birch, hemlock. Tucker Lake Hemlocks, Price County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern mesic forest groundlayer of wood fern (Dryopteris), club-moss (Lycopodium), and canada mayflower (Maianthemum). Argonne Esker, Forest County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Remnant stand of old-growth Northern Mesic Forest dominated by eastern hemlock. Formerly abundant, such forests are now very rare in Wisconsin. Tucker Lake Hemlocks, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Price County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Lush layer of Canada yew under sugar maple poletimber near the Montreal River, Iron County. This stand contained several ephemeral ponds.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Dry-mesic variant of Northern Mesic Forest, with white pine, red pine, hemlock, beech, and sugar maple. Crow Settlement Pines, Menominee Reservation, Menominee County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

White cedar and yew growing together in northern mesic forest. Devil's Island, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Old growth yellow birch, hemlock, white cedar, yew in northern mesic forest. Raspberry Island - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Yellow birch, hemlock in northern mesic forest, Price County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Blowdown in old growth hemlock-hardwoods forest, with cradle knoll. Outer Island Hemlock- Hardwoods, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Older mesic forest with a canopy of large hemlock, yellow birch, and sugar maple. Lake Laura, Vilas county.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Northern mesic forest tongues along Bad River Reservation, Ashland County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Giant white pine grove with a deer-browsed maple sapling understory, Forest County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Remnant old-growth hemlock-hardwood forest features large living trees, snags, coarse woody debris, and a multi-layered canopy. Such forests were historically abundant in northern Wisconsin but are now exceedingly rare. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Photo by Mike Mossman.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Photo by Thomas Meyer.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Large coarse woody debris.

Photo by Thomas Meyer.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Large standing snags provide important foraging and breeding sites for many forest animals. In this case, a Pileated Woodpecker has excavated the prominent deep cavities in this snag.

Photo by Thomas Meyer.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Giant white pine grove. Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Rich maple-beech forest, Butts Woods, northern mesic forest.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Hemlock seedlings on nurse log. In most parts of northern Wisconsin, browse pressure from white-tailed deer allows few young hemlocks to advance beyond this stage.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Rich mesic hardwood forests may support diverse assemblages of spring wildflowers. Plants pictured here include wild leek, cut-leaved toothwort, Virginia waterleaf, large-flowered bellwort, spring-beauty and dwarf ginseng.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Northern Mesic Forest Photo

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Note: photos are provided to illustrate various examples of natural community types. A single photograph cannot represent the range of variability inherent in a given community type. Some of these photos explicitly illustrate unusual and distinctive community variants. The community photo galleries are a work in progress that we will expand and improve in the future.

Last revised: Tuesday, November 28, 2017