Allentown Events, Things to Do, Area GuideAllentown Guide
Allentown Alive on Facebook
Charities, conservation, events, festivals, concerts, fairs, recognition
Community News
Press Releases
Our forests never sleep, even in winter!
11/18/2016

Autumn leaves are dropping; starting an inevitable timeless recycling process that enriches the soil. You might think that once the leaves have all dropped, that forests begin to wind down for a long winter snooze. 

But according to Dr. Emile DeVito, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s staff biologist, critical ecological processes and fascinating animal behaviors begin in the fall and continue right through winter. 

As Emile explains, falling leaves pile up on the forest floor. Water, molds, and other fungi combine to decompose the leaves, gaining energy from the tough lignin, which has the same chemical makeup as sugar and starch. 

On sunny warm days, invertebrates living in the rich organic layer of the soil begin shredding and chopping up the softened leaves. As pieces get smaller, even more critters attack. By early spring, many nutrients will be newly available to the root and fungal mats in the dark, rich organic humus – the soil layer beneath the leaf litter in our forests.

If you’re a hiker, you've likely encountered forest floors free of leaves and humus, but instead sprinkled with little dirt-like ball bearings. You are walking on mineral soil particles that have been scrubbed of organic material and compacted into worm poop! 

But most of the earthworms in our forests are non-native, invasive species. Unfortunately, European earthworms, and especially the recently-arrived Asian earthworms, break down leaf litter far too quickly, consume the nutrients, release carbon dioxide (CO2), and create ideal habitat for shallow-rooted invasive plants like garlic mustard and Japanese stilt grass. These plants also lower the natural acidity (raise the pH) of forest soils, encouraging more earthworms. 

Why does worm poop matter? One reason is that New Jersey’s growing season has lengthened due to global climate change. Today, on warm, sun-facing slopes, especially in forests growing on former agricultural land, there is enough time in the fall and early winter for earthworms to virtually eliminate the autumn leaf litter. Without leaf litter and with little or no snow to cover the soil, the tiny dirt balls of worm poop are exposed to powerful winter rains. Soil erosion can be extreme and result in heavy siltation in streams and waterways, even within our forests. 

Thankfully earthworms cannot get a strong foothold in the Pine Barrens. The pine and oak leaf litter decomposes very slowly due to sandy and acidic soils, and can get quite thick. 

By about Halloween, all of the rare snakes in Pine Barrens forests have made their way back to their winter dens. But these snakes do not retreat into their dens for a long winter slumber. They seek refuge well below the frost line in cold but unfrozen soil at a constant temperature of about 36 degrees. Timber rattlesnakes in the Pine Barrens hibernate in cold water near unfrozen, running forest springs.

Recent radio-tracking studies of these rare snakes reveal that they emerge to bask in the sun on warm winter days. This may help their immune responses in fighting minor bacterial and fungal infections. Sometimes they even switch winter dens, moving cross-country in the middle of winter. 

One massive adult male pine snake moved two-tenths of a mile in January. He may have followed the scent trail of a large, breeding age female that had gone that same way the previous September; this same male ended up following her very closely the next spring until breeding season arrived. 

On humid late fall and winter evenings with temperatures above freezing, watch for male “winter moths” flying in your car headlights! You won’t see females unless you hike through the forest and find them sitting on tree trunks, as they have tiny vestigial wings and cannot fly.  They simply emit their pheromones and wait for the flying males to catch their scent while on the wing.  

Late fall brings one last flowering shrub. Witch-hazel, a common forest shrub throughout north and central New Jersey, blooms in October and November. This year, mild weather may allow the delicate yellow, threadlike flower petals to still be visible on Black Friday! 

Watch for tiny flying insect pollinators that visit the witch-hazel, listen for the melancholy song of white-throated sparrows, and look for the many “winter finches” that migrate to New Jersey from the north to spend the winter here … in our forests that never sleep!

For more information about preserving New Jersey’s forests and other natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at  www.njconservation.org or contact me at  info@njconservation.org.

POSTS

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force

Take a walk on the bottom of the sea!

Energy efficiency saves money and land - and creates jobs!

The Pines of March

Trees are more social than you think!

New Jersey's geological 'layer cake'

Keeping the 'great' in Paterson's Great Falls

Some good news!

Take action to defend and protect land and water

Interested in ecology? Become a Rutgers Environmental Steward

2016 wins and losses for New Jersey's land and water

Kick off a healthy New Year with First Day hike

Energy infrastructure: the new sprawl

Two great books for connecting kids with nature

Why do some trees stay green while others lose their leaves?

Melting ice, rising seas, hotter planet

Our forests never sleep, even in winter!

Documentary brings Great Swamp battle back to life

Defending the land they loved

Four years after Sandy, rising sea levels predicted

New Jersey: Small state, big diversity

10 great natural areas for enjoying fall colors

Removing obsolete dams brings rivers back to life

Humpback whales a welcome sight off NJ coast

NJ wine industry boosts agritourism

For good health, bathe in a forest!

Let's NOT make a deal!

New Jersey's spectacular waterfalls

Urban trees boost health and land values

Blue Acres: A win-win for open space, owners of flooded homes

Get mosquitos to buzz off - naturally!

Flawed pipeline approval process needs reforms

Speak out for our Atlantic Ocean and coast!

Help Pokemon Go lead into outdoors and nature

NJ 4th in peaches; don't miss out on peach season!

Water, water everywhere - keep it safe to drink!

Growing beer in the Garden State

Celebrate NJ's Revolutionary War parks and open spaces on July 4

Override Governor's veto of open space bill

Taming the wild blueberry 100 years ago

Celebrate and take action during National Pollinator Week

Get on the Circuit for National Trails Day

New tax deduction would give boost to NJ non-profits

Best nature movies

Call on Governor Christie to sign the open space bill!

Native seed bank may provide ash trees of the future

Urban farms bring healthy local foods

National Park Service turns 100

ARCHIVE

March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011

CLICK FOR RECENT POSTS

FS Landscaping Contractors, Inc. specializes in design and building inground swimming pool. We provide service in all phases of pool building from hardscaping & masonry to landscaping,copings, waterfalls, pavilions, outdoor kitchens, fence, storm water management and more. Visit our garden center at Froehlich's Farm in Furlong, PA. PA#003661, NJ#13H05143700.

Ana Maria Jones is a licensed Realtor based at Robert G. Gavin Realtors, serving Bucks County, PA. For Ana, it?s never about simply buying or selling homes. With her knowledge and strong relationships, Ana aims to help you relocate. She wants to get you comfortably and conveniently from point A to point B. To do that, she draws upon years of experience and relationships with other companies, such as those offering moving and storage. In fact, when you buy and sell a home with Ana, she gives you moving and storage services as a housewarming gift! If you only do one or the other, Ana is happy to offer you these services at a discount.

Escape to our romantic bed and breakfast along the Delaware River near the wineries, shopping and dining of New Hope, PA & Lambertville, NJ. Our charming inn features private cottages and luxurious suites with Jacuzzis, fireplaces, and fluffy robes. Every stay at our award winning inn includes a complimentary gourmet breakfast and our delicious afternoon sweets. Come relax your cares away and discover a simpler way of life.

Strength & Grace Dance Academy is a place where each student is given strength not only to dance, but to become strong, confident individuals. We believe that each dancer can express themselves freely through the art of dance. Dancers will get the attention they deserve to let their own unique personality shine! We offer classes for dancers age 3 to adult. The classes we offer are: Baby Steps with Mommy, Freedom which is our version of creative movement, Combo classes, Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Pointe and Barrga! A class for adults which is a fun blend of ballet and yoga! Strength & Grace is a loving, caring environment to let everyone truly shine! We are located at Spotlight Dance Center in Huntingdon Valley.

Doylestown Escape Room is the borough's first immersive mystery & adventure game. Behind the escape room door, with just 60 minutes to work, your group will rush to solve unique riddles, puzzles and mind tricks. Imagine a dark isolated alley; a harrowing rescue and narrow escape; a mind twisting, 60 minute quest for clues. Do you have what it take to save your friend and escape from Dead End Alley, before it's too late? In the escape room, creativity, teamwork and resourcefulness are the keys to freedom!

For over 25 years, the paving experts at Boswell Brothers Paving have increased the value and beauty to residences and businesses in Bucks, Montgomery and Lehigh counties. We are the people to call when your driveway needs to be repaved or your building's parking lot needs striping or crack repair. With our knowledge and experience, you can expect incredible results in paving, asphalt, and sealcoat services. We are equipped do court services, asphalt grading, paving designs, retaining walls, and more. Some of our project specialties include basketball courts, tennis courts, private roads, and parking lots. If you just need regular maintenance, we can provide that too! This includes asphalt overlay, replacement, patching up holes, re-raking, and smoothing out damaged areas. Boswell Brother's Paving specializes in all forms of paving and can help you with just about any project. Give us a call today!

Tyler Park Center for the Arts offers exciting workshops in a variety of artistic mediums for all levels, beginner through advanced, adults and children. All classes, workshops, and a variety of Summer Art Camps are taught by talented and exceptional artists in beautiful Tyler State Park. Experience Wheel Thrown and Hand Built Pottery, Precious Metal Clay, Glass Arts, Fine Art, Photography, Paper Making, and more! Take a stroll in our large scale Outdoor Sculpture Garden, fire pots in our Manabigama Wood Kiln, and attend Crafts in the Meadow, our annual  Juried Invitational Fine Art and Craft Festival this October along with the Mad Hatters Garden Party benefit auction in June.

Your Time, Your Home, Your Lifestyle, Your Way! A recent Time Use Survey showed that Americans spend on average 20 hours or more per week on housekeeping & entertaining. What if we could show you a way to have freedom from all of those tedious tasks that are robbing you of hours of time & energy? If you are too busy, too tired, or too smart to spend your free time doing time-consuming household chores, then we are the ones to call! Armed with a select team of bonded and insured, non-smoking, housekeeping & hospitality professionals with more than 20 years of experience; a full range of Home & Hospitality service plans to fit every need, and a 5 Star Quality guarantee, Eclectic Domestics is ready to help you manage, maintain & reclaim your time, your home, and your lifestyle. From cleaning & laundry, grocery shopping & meal prep, organizing & holiday decorating, to party staffing & more, no job is too small. We will design the perfect service plan for you. Contact us today to learn more about our premium & customized service packages.

For 30 years, The Princeton Review has been the destination for college and grad bound students to make their dreams a reality. Last year alone, we helped more than 3.5 million students get into a great college or grad school. How do we do it? Online and in-person tutoring and test prep from top-notch educators as well as more than 150 books that provide test prep help to college admissions advice. For 30 years, The Princeton Review has been the destination for college and grad bound students to make their dreams a reality. Last year alone, we helped more than 3.5 million students get into a great college or grad school. How do we do it? Online and in-person tutoring and test prep from top-notch educators as well as more than 150 books that provide test prep help to college admissions advice.

As a property owner and community member, your needs for a property management company that has genuine skills, service and expertise is critical. AMCC places the highest priority on accountability, accessibility and service. We perform weekly visual inspections of our properties, detecting potential problems before they become real problems. Our hands-on management reduces the burden on the board for the daily operations and maintenance of your community. A primary objective of AMCC is to relieve the board of the burdens of day-to-day operations and administration of property management and empower them as decision makers. We believe in common sense solutions to property management, providing clients with services tailored to meet their needs, rather than a blanket approach for every community. Our clients love us, and you will too! As a property owner and community member, your needs for a property management company that has genuine skills, service and expertise is critical. AMCC places the highest priority on accountability, accessibility and service. We perform weekly visual inspections of our properties, detecting potential problems before they become real problems. Our hands-on management reduces the burden on the board for the daily operations and maintenance of your community. A primary objective of AMCC is to relieve the board of the burdens of day-to-day operations and administration of property management and empower them as decision makers. We believe in common sense solutions to property management, providing clients with services tailored to meet their needs, rather than a blanket approach for every community. Our clients love us, and you will too!

  become a sponsor

adbnrs