Forests and Salmon Depend On Each Anotherby Jim Kling - UPI Science Writer
United Press International - September 28(?), 2001
Forests nurture salmon, providing shade and shelter to the young salmon, in the form of limb snags that create pools in streams. But new research published in the September issue of the journal Ecology suggests that salmon pay back the favor, providing an input of nitrogen to the forest/stream ecosystem. The fish pick up nitrogen from sources in the sea, and the researchers -- James M. Helfield and Robert J. Naiman of the University of Washington -- found that the critical nutrient makes its way into a number of plants and trees.
The research shows that salmon and terrestrial ecosystems are mutually dependent, and therefore the traditional fisheries approach of single-species management is probably insufficient. The results may also explain why trees near streams are often larger than their counterparts further away. "This study allows ecologists to see that the relationship between riparian vegetation and salmon is a two-way street," Naiman said. "As a main limiting factor for terrestrial plant growth in many northern and temperate forests, nitrogen is of vital importance to plants, and the nitrogen derived from spawning salmon is an essential addition to the ecosystem."
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