Sky Meadows Habitats

 

 

Sky Meadows State Park is a complex ecological environment that is
comprised of ten main habitats. The general characteristics of each type of
habitat is presented first, then followed by specific information pertaining
to Sky Meadows State Park.

 

Forest
Thicket
Meadow
Field
Forest Stream
Pond
Marsh
Forest Edge
Cultivated Sites
Habitation Sites
Conveyance Sites

 

Forest: "Forest" is the name given to a habitat made up primarily of
trees. There are many different kinds of forests. Some are composed of
older more mature trees while others are composed of younger trees just
successionally emerging from meadows or from logging or burns. A forest
may be made up of mostly evergreen trees, like pines, or it may be a
deciduous forest, with trees that drop their leaves in the fall. A forest may
be comprised of many different species of plants, while other forest may be
comprised of only a small number of species. Some forests are relatively
"closed", allowing only minimial amounts of light to reach the forest floor,
while others are "open," allowing substantial amounts of sunlight to reach
the forest floor (thus encouraging understory growth). One extended forest
may be a mixture of all these things. In addition, forests can also contain
other habitats, such as streams, thickets, or meadows. Forests can be in
higher elevations, on mountainsides, or in a river valley.

 

In general, traditional Virginia farming and grazing practices have included
the clearing of lower elevation areas (particularly near rivers, streams, and
"runs"). Mountain slopes have also been used for farming and grazing, while
higher elevations retained primary and secondary forests. This is true of
Sky Meadows State Park, where most of the lower elevations of the Park
have long been cleared of forest, while higher elevations (Lost Mountain in
the eastern section of the Park; North Ridge in the western) have retained
significant tracts of forest. Some lower elevation forest fragments still exist
(Woodpecker Lane and Shearman's Mill Trail); while restricted in range,
they are important wildlife habitats (particularly birds).

 

Regardless of what kind of forest, there are some common characteristics:

Canopy: The canopy is the topmost part of the forest, where most of the
leaves are located. Leaves' gather sunlight for photosynthesis. Because of
this, most of the leaves and branches are at the top of the tree, particularly
when there are large numbers of trees and competition for sunlight is
intense. In mature forests, a tree's trunk is usually bare until it reaches
the canopy. The amount of canopy coverage is a primary factor in the com-
position and amount of understory trees, shrubs, forbs and herbs. The
canopy also provides shelter and protection for many types of birds and,
to a lesser degree, some mammals.

 

Common canopy trees of Sky Meadows are yellow poplar (Liriodendron
tulipifera) and several species of oak, including northern red oak (Quercus
rubra), white oak (Quercus alba), and pin oak (Quercus palustris).

 

Canopy cover throughout Sky Meadows is consistent with the density and
age of forest trees - variations range from fragmented, open canopy areas
(upper portions of North Ridge and the Appalachian Trail south out of the
Park) to nearly complete canopy coverage (upper portion of Lost Mountain
Trail and upper portion of Snowden Interpretative Trail). Wind damage is
a significant factor with openings in the canopy, particularly in the upper
elevations of North Ridge.

 

Understory Trees/Bushes: Understory trees and bushes can thrive in
partial to full shade. Leaves can get enough light even beneath the canopy.
Understory trees are shorter than most of the trees in the forest; bushes
may be prolific but are generally relatively small. Understory trees and
shrubs are important cover for wildlife. In general, the more mature the
forest, the fewer understory trees and shrubs.

 

Two larger understory trees found in the forests of Sky Meadows are
redbud (Cercis canadensis) and flowering dogwood (Cornus florida).
Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) is a common understory bush.

Forest Floor: The floor is the bottom of the forest. It has several com-
ponents, including ground cover, leaf litter, logs and stumps, and, most
importantly, soil and humus. Many animals spend their entire lives on
the forest floor and depend on these things for survival.

 

Ground Cover: Ground cover is made up of shorter plants or fungi that
grow close to the ground. The amount of ground cover depends on the
type of forest it grows in. An open forest lets in more light and usually
has more ground cover. A dense forest has a thick canopy with less light
reaching the forest floor for ground cover to grow. Ground cover could
include young trees, shrubs, ferns, wildflowers, weeds, mosses, and even
mushrooms and other fungi. Ground cover is essential to many types of
wildlife and significant changes to ground cover can have a profound
influence on small mammals, reptiles, and birds.

 

Two areas in Sky Meadows State Park that have sparse ground cover
include the higher elevation portion of Snowden Interpretative Trail
("Snowden Loop") and the higher elevation portion of Lost Mountain
Trail. Areas with more dense ground cover (due to openings in the

canopy) include portions of the North Ridge Trail and the higher eleva-

tion portion of South Ridge Trail.

 

Leaf Litter: Leaf litter (or needle litter) is another important part of a

forest. Leaves and needles fall from trees and create a "carpet" on the

forest floor. This carpet provides shelter for small animals. As dead

leaves break down, nutrients return to the soil and provide food for

trees and other plants in the forest.

 

Large amounts of leaf litter can be found throughout all the forest areas
of Sky Meadows State Park. The forests of Sky Meadows are deciduous;
therefore, a new covering of leaves layers the forest floor each year.

 

Vines: Most forests have some sort of vines. There are different types of
vines. Some wrap themselves around a tree when the tree and the vine
are young. As the tree grows, the vine grows with it (grape vines are an
example). Other vines attach themselves to a tree and climb up it over
time. These vines usually have tendrils or rootlets that cling to the tree's
trunk (poison ivy is an example of this kind of vine).

 

Sky Meadows has at least eight species of vines encompassing six vine
families. Two of the larger and more common vines are eastern poison
ivy (Toxicodenron radicans) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus
quinquefolia
). A smaller, less common vine, Japanese honeysuckle
(Lonicera japonica) can be found growing in dense, restricted portions
of Shearman's Mill Trail.

 

Logs, Stumps, Rocks, etc: A forest is filled with trees; trees naturally die
while others may be severely damaged by lightning and wind shears from
storms. Disease and infestations also contribute to tree damage and death.
This means every forest will have a variety of fallen logs, old stumps, and
pieces of trunks and branches. These places are important habitat for
animals. Rocks, small and large, are found in some forests. Pinecones,
acorns, sticks, and other debris fall from trees to the forest floor as well.

Sky Meadows has an abundance of forest debris typical of any eastern
deciduous forest. In addition, there is an extensive amount of large rocks
and boulders, many of which provide microhabitats for a range of moss
species. Most larger rocks and boulders have lichen growing on them and
it is not uncommon to find ferns, forbs and herbs, and even some small
shrubs and trees growing in the cracks and crevices of large boulders and
rock strewn areas.

 

Thicket: A "thicket" is an in-between stage of botanical development,
more successionally advanced that a meadow but not yet a forest. To

understand how a thicket is created, you first need to understand the

natural process called "ecological succession." Ecological successional

is defined as:

 

..........ecological succession, the process by which the structure of a bio-

          logical community evolves over time. Two different types of succes-

          sion -- primary and secondary -- have been distinguished. Primary

          succession occurs in essentially lifeless areas—regions in which the

          soil is incapable of sustaining life as a result of such factors as lava

          flows, newly formed sand dunes, or rocks left from are retreating     

          glacier. Secondary succession occurs in areas where a community

          that previously existed has been removed; it is typified by smaller-

          scale disturbances that do not eliminate all life and nutrients from the   

          environment.

 

Secondary succession is the type of ecological succession encountered in

much of Sky Meadows State Park. The concept "succession" is generally

applied to progressive changes in plant life, although all organisms in the environment can be effected.

 

In general, the process following the following sequence:

 

First, an area is cleared of all, or most, trees. This cleared area may be

used for the growing of crops or it may be used for grazing purposes.

The area may also be cleared through natural causes - a forest fire or flood.

If the area is continuously managed by humans, there will be minimal

successional changes. At this stage, the land may be regarded as a "field".

However, if the land is abandoned by humans, or there is no human inter-

vention on burned or flooded land, the natural successional sequence will

begin. Plant seeds from the general vincinity travel by wind or water and

land on burned or flooded land, or will begin to integrate with existing

plant life (e.g., with grasses in an abandoned pasture). With abundant sun-

light, the first seeds to grow into plants are grasses and wildflowers (includ-

ing many "invasive weeds"). Within a few years and without human inter-

vention, the field will evolve into a meadow.

 

As the meadow grows, seeds of new plants, generally species of shrubs

and trees, begin to grow under the grasses and wildflowers. These plants

have the ability to grow taller than the grasses and wildflowers. When

these first young shrubs or trees begin to grow, they are protected by the

grasses already in the meadow. As the shrubs and trees grow bigger, they

begin to block the light so it can't reach the smaller grasses and wild-

flowers. The smaller plants eventually die out and leave only the shrubs

and trees. This process takes several years.

 

Usually, the shrubs and trees grow at the same time. In a thicket, many
young shrubs and trees grow close together, but as years go by, the trees
grow taller than the shrubs, giving the trees a competitive edge in survival.
As more years pass, some trees crowd out others. The trees that are left
continue to grow taller, and what was once a meadow, then a thicket, will
evolve into a forest.

 

Thickets can be found near other habitats. They may be in the middle of a
forest, in a meadow, on the side of a road, or on a sandbar in the middle of
a river.

 

When you see a thicket, you will recognize the following characteristics:

 

Shrubs and Trees: Thickets are made of shrubs and young trees, with a
large number of the same species densely packed together. Shrubs and
trees are generally representative of local species in the immediate vicinity.

Vines: Thickets usually have tangles of vines. Vines can cover trees and
shrubs, often completely. Some trees may even become strangled by vines.

Thickets can look very different based on their locations and ages. Certain
plants grow in certain areas, and as they get older, get replaced by other
plants. Species that grow in one spot may be entirely different than what
grows in another spot, just as a forest in one area has different trees than
another.

 

For Sky Meadows, an excellent example of a thicket is the area between
Rolling Meadows Trail (eastern side) and Washington's Ridge Trail. In

fact, hiking the Rolling Meadows Trail to where it joins Lost Mountain

Trail incorporates an opportunity to observe currently active fields, aban-

doned fields/old pasture, meadows, thickets, and, finally, forest.

 

Meadow: The term "meadow" is generally give to areas where formerly
cultivated crop land or pastures have been abandoned and native and
introduced plants and animals have successionally established themselves.
In addition to abandoned crop land and pastures, meadows can emerge
after forest fires, land slides, and human created construction clearnings.

 

Characteristics common to most meadows include:

 

Grasses: Most meadows have an abundance of grasses. Other plants grow
there too, but grasses are the main plants. They don't look the same as
grass in a lawn; they are allowed to grow wild without mowing. Grasses

in a meadow grow tall and get small flowers and seeds. Grasses provide

food and shelter for small animals, such as meadow voles.

 

Wildflowers and "Weeds": Other plants grow among the grasses, particu-

larly those plants that require full sun. Members of Family Asteraceae are
can be very abundant in meadows while species of mustards (Family
Brassicaceae) can blanket large areas of meadow extending into less dense
forest areas.

 

Common winter cress (Barbarea vulgaris) and garlic mustard (Alliaria
petiolata
) are two Family Brassicaceae wildflowers that dominate much
meadow land in Sky Meadows, while several Family Asteraceae are con-
spicuous, including bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), nodding thistle (Car-

duus nutans), wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), and yellow crownbeard
(Verbesina occidentalis). Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) is
also often encountered in Sky Meadows.

 

It should be noted that there isn't any real difference between the term
"wildflower" and the term "weed" other than evaluative judgment. Weed
is just a term people used to describe an unwanted wildflower. While

wildflower and weed are common terms used by most visitors to Sky

Meadows, the scientific terms forbs and herbs are used in the Nature

Guide (see Forbs and Herbs section of the Nature Guide for further

elaboration).

 

Shrubs and Trees: While shrubs and trees aren't the main plant species in
a meadow, they do exist, usually as a young saplings. Most meadows have
at least a few different species (species often found in nearby forests), and
some meadows may have sigificant number but in low density. Trees and
shrubs look different in a meadow than they do in a forest. In a forest, trees
compete with each other for light. This makes them grow up instead of out
to the sides. Most of the leaves on a forest tree are at the top. In a meadow,
a tree gets an abundance of light. Because of this, meadow trees tend to
grow shorter and wider. Shrubs, which can be more plentiful than trees in
meadows, also grow full and often wide.

 

Sky Meadows has several meadow areas, including much of the Piedmont
Overlook Trail and the North Ridge Trail, the middle portion of South

Ridge Trail, and portions of Rolling Meadows Trail and most of the Old

Pasture Trail. Most of the meadows found in Sky Meadows have recently successionally emerged from discontinued fields and old pastures, and, in

the case of the Piedmont Overlook and North Ridge Trails, limited graz-

ing is still practiced.

 

Field: Field" is used most often to describe an area managed by people.
It is a generic term, and, technically, can include areas for crops as well

as pasture. For the Nature Guide, "field" will be restricted to old fields

no longer being used for crops as well as current and former pasture land.
Fields currently being used for crops are discussed under "Cultivated

Sites" below.

 

The human management of fields greatly reduces to near elimination the
"natural" process of botanical succession (the progressive reintroduction
of plant species over a long period of time). Forest land originally cleared
for crops or grazing require continuous human intervention to prevent
native and introduced plant species from supplanting crops or forage
grasses and legumes. With active fields, human intervention usually invol-
ves plowing or mowing, and often the introduction of fertilizers, herb-

icides, and pesticides.

 

"Old fields" is a term used for fields no longer being systematically used

for the growing of crops or grazing. Old fields generally include abandon-

ed farm sites or pastures, but may also include sites still being occassion-

ally mowed to prevent successional growth. Old fields have a greater

diversity of plant and animal life than currently active fields. If abandoned,

old fields will progressively succeed into the "meadow" stage.

 

Common Virginia pasture forage plants include alfalfa, Bermudagrass,

and several species of clover (e.g., red, white, alsike, and ladino clovers).

Many native and introduced plant species (usually referred as "weeds")

can be found in grazing pastures and hayfields, including annual ryegrass

(Lolium multiflorum), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), bull thistle

(Cirsium vulgare), and Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).

 

Forest Stream: A forest stream is its own unique habitat. It has some
things in common with rivers, and it is an important part of a forest. Like
rivers, forest streams can vary in width, depth, and current. Most are
shaded, but some dry up during the summer. There are some species of
animals that live only in forest streams, and no place else. Forest streams
go by other names, such as creek, spring, or run.

 

Some major characteristics of forest streams include:

 

Size: The size of a forest stream is usually small, compared to rivers, but
some small rivers are actually forest streams. Forest streams tend to be
shallow, rarely over a person's head, even in the deepest parts. Many
people could easily jump over some forest streams, and most could cross
one by stepping on rocks without even getting wet feet.

 

Current: Like rivers, the current of a forest stream can be fast or slow.
Because streams are smaller and more shallow than rivers, water always
looks like it's "in a hurry." At the deeper parts, a forest stream usually
has a slower current.

 

Bottom: Most forest streams have gravelly or sandy bottoms, but a mud
bottom is not unusual, especially in the slower part of a stream. In the fall,
leaves from the forest's trees fall into the water, carpeting the bottom. It is
up to the current to take many of the leaves downstream, or small animals
to eat and break the leaves down.

 

Rocks: Forest streams often have a lot of flattened rocks, especially where
the current is fast. Lots of animals, such as crayfish and aquatic insects use
these rocks as shelter.

 

Banks: Like rivers, streams can have gentle or steep banks. Undercut banks
are common as well, which can destablize a tree root system.

 

Light/Shade: Depending on the forest, some streams are shady nearly
the whole day. In a more open forest, the stream may have parts that
receive extensive amounts of light. The types of plants and animals that
live in streams often depends on the amount of light as much as it does
current, depth, or bottom.

 

Aquatic Insects: These are some of the most important animals in a forest
stream. Many of them can only survive in this type of habitat. These insects
provide food for many animals, both as nymphs (young) in the water, and
as adults flying through the forest. Insects also help tell us how healthy and
clean a stream is based on their presence.

 

Animal Visitors: Nearly every forest animal comes to a stream for some
reason or other. Large and small animals drink from the cool, clean waters.
Others come to look for food, such as fish or insects, which live in the
stream. Birds and other animals bathe in forest streams, where the water
is shallow and less dangerous than larger bodies of water.

 

Pond: There are no lakes in Sky Meadows State Park; there is, how-
ever, one large pond, Turner Pond, and a number of small, man-made
water reservoirs, formerly used for agriculture or grazing purposes.
These water reservoirs have become naturalized "ponds" with a variety
of plants and animals. These naturalized ponds share several characteristics:

 

1) The ponds usually have mostly still water; there is little indication of
currents;

2) The ponds are relatively shallow; the smallest ponds can vary in depth
significantly with the seasons;

3) The ponds are usualy fed by a single small stream, brook, or rivulet,
and may have one or more runlets. Most have some slope seepage;

4) The water temperature for the ponds is usually the same throughout;

5) Relative to their size, the ponds have more plant life than most lakes.

Unlike the naturalized ponds, Turner Pond is larger, with characteristics
consistent with a small lake. Used for fishing (the pond is "stocked" with)

it is fed by Gap Run (the largest stream in Sky Meadows State Park) and
is maintained by Park personnel. It is significantly deeper than the natural-
ized ponds with variations in depth temperatures, and some minimum
currents.

 

Below is further description of pond characteristics:

 

Surface Film: The surface film is a thin, strong layer at the surface

of the pond. Many tiny animals live on the film. Water striders, for example,

can walk on the film, and pond snails can glide upside down on it. Some plants,
especially duckweed and lily pads, float on the film. The surface film is also
very important to aquatic insects, which use it to metamorphosize (change)
from the nymph (juvenile) stage to the adult stage.

 

Bottom: The pond's bottom is usually made of mud. Many aqatic insects,
crayfish, leeches, and other creatures live in, or on top of, the bottom. In
winter, turtles and frogs bury themselves in the bottom to hibernate.

 

Shore plants: Many trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers do well in

moist soil with lots of sunlight. This makes pond edges great places to

grow. These plants provide cover for animals that visit the pond and

shade for animals that live in the pond.

 

Emergent Plants: These plants "emerge," or rise up, out of the water.

Roots of emergent plants are in the mud bottom, underwater, near the

edge of the pond. Leaves and flowers are above the water's surface.

Examples of emergent plants include cattails, sedges, bulrushes, reeds,

and arrowheads. Emergent plants provide important shelter for pond

animals, such as frogs, snakes, and muskrats.

 

Floating Plants: These plants float on the surface film of the water.

Some, the duckweeds, float freely, with tiny roots dropping down into

the water. Others, like lily pads, have wide leaves that float on the

surface and long stems that reach all the way down to the pond bottom

where roots lay in the mud. Lilies grow in huge colonies and can some-

times cover the entire surface of a pond. Floating plants provide cover

for fish and other underwater creatures.

 

Submergent Plants: These plants spend their entire lives underwater.
Bladderworts and horntails are examples. Submergent plants provide
structure for aquatic insects to climb on and food for animals, such as

ducks and snails.

 

Microorganisms: Microorganisms are tiny creatures and plants that

you need a microscope to see. Ponds are the best place to find them.

Tiny insect larvae, crustaceans, protists, bacteria, and algae are some

of the most common types of organsims found in a pond. These

organisms are food for baby fish, aquatic insects, tadpoles, newts,

and other animals.

 

Aquatic Insects: These are insects that lay their eggs in water. Eggs

hatch into a nymph stage underwater and most of the insects' lives

are spent there. Some aquatic insects prefer streams, but most can

be found in ponds. When the nymphs are ready to change into adults,

they swim or float to the surface film, where they metamorphosize

into the form of insects you are most familiar with. Dragonflies,

mosquitoes, mayflies, water striders, diving beetles, crane flies, and

whirligigs are some examples of aquatic insects.

 

Logs and Snags: Many ponds have dead logs from fallen trees in

them. A dead snag is a tree that is dead, but still standing. These are

most common in beaver ponds, but they are also found in man-made

ponds. Logs provide basking spots for turtles and snakes and resting

spots for ducks and geese. Snags are great perches for birds, like king-

fishers and swallows.

 

Beaver Lodges and Muskrat Houses: Ponds are the most common

home of beavers and muskrats. Beavers are often responsible for mak-

ing the pond in the first place. By building a dam, beavers create a

pond from a marsh or stream. Beaver lodges made of branches, sticks,

and mud may be in the center of the pond or near an edge. A larger

dam may be at one end of the pond, holding the water in. Muskrat

houses are smaller than beaver lodges and are made mostly of cattails

and grasses.

 

Other Life: Ponds are home to a great variety of wildlife, including

fish, reptiles, frogs, birds, insects, crayfish, snails, leeches, and others.

Ponds also attract visiting wildlife, searching for water or food.

 

Marsh: A marsh, also called a "wetland," is one of our most important

habitats. Marshes probably support more life than any other type of hab-

itat. They are also essential to keeping our environment clean.

 

Some major characteristics of marshes include:

 

Water: The best known characteristic of a wetland, water levels

change constantly in a marsh. One or more sources of water feeds

a marsh, usually a river or several smaller streams. As water comes

into the marsh it settles into the soil and is later absorbed by plants.

While most of the marsh remains fairly shallow, it holds some

water year round.

 

Plants: Plants are one of the most important parts of a wetland.

Aquatic plants specialize in living in a wet environment, and a typi-

cal marsh generally has a substantial variety of plant species. Plenty

of other, non-aquatic plants grow in a marsh as well, since a marsh

is really a "transition", or middle-ground between a water habitat

and a land habitat. Aquatic plants found in a marsh include duck-

weeds, lilypads, cattails, bulrushes, reeds, pondweeds, and arrow-

heads. Water-loving shrubs and trees include willows, alders, syca-

mores, buttonbush, and swamp rose. You only need to find a dry

spot to see the usual grasses, wildflowers, and trees found in other

habitats.

 

Soil: Most of the soil in a marsh is wet for the majority of the year,

making it mud. This moist soil is great for certain types of plants

and animals.

 

Animals: Any animal that likes a wet environment is likely to be found in a marsh. This includes many species of frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, mammals, birds and insects. Some of these animals are only found in a marsh. Some birds that love a marsh environment include wading birds, such as great blue herons; waterfowl, including mallards and Canada geese; and fishng birds, like belted kingfishers and bald eagles. Common insects include dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, and diving beetles. Some mammals, like beaver and muskrats, may live in a marsh full-time; while others, such as fox, deer, and raccoons, visit frequently.

 

Dead Snags: Dead snags are what's left of trees that have died, but are still standing. They make good perches for birds and often rise straight up out of the water or mud. These old trunks are from trees that died when their roots were drowned in water in a flood, or when beavers built a new dam that flooded an area.

 

Fallen Trees: Old logs make great basking spots for turtles and snakes. They also provide animals such as herons and raccoons a hunting perch.

 

Forest Edge: A forest edge is a completely different habitat than a forest. Some of the trees and plants that grow at the edge of the forest are the same as those in the middle of the forest, but they look very different at the edge. Also, other plants grow at the edge that cannot grow inside the forest at all. A forest edge can be beside a pond, a meadow, a river, a pond, or a roadside.

 

Many animals and plants depend on forest edges and could not survive anywhere else. Others can survive in different habitats, but do nowhere nearly as well as they do at the edge.

 

A forest edge is also a "transition," a change from one habitat to another. For animals that move from habitat to habitat, the edges are extremely important.

 

Below are some characteristics of forest edges:

 

Shrubs: More than any other plant, shrubs are found at edges. Most shrubs

can't survive in the middle of a forest because they can't get enough light, but at the forest edge, they get plenty of light. At the edge, shrubs tend to be full and "bushy," whereas in a forest they are usually thin and scraggly.

 

Small Trees: Smaller trees, which could only be understory trees in a forest, can grow taller and fuller at the edge.

 

Vines: Vines do very well at edges, especially those that climb on other plants. Like other plants, vines can be more "bushy" at the edge, sometimes turning into shrubs themselves.

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Cultivated Sites: Cultivated sites are those areas where crops, orchards, and specific pasture grasses are raised for human or animal consumption. Unless abandoned, cultivated sites are strictly controlled for plant and animal life. Cultivated sites are usually treated with herbacides or insectacides on a regular basis, and fertilization and soil treatment (e.g., adding manure) is common.  While some invasive species can compete with crops or pasture grasses, human intervention usually does not allow for invasive species to become dominate.

 

A limited number of hertitage crops (e.g., pumpkins) are grown in the historical area of Sky Meadows State Park. Some orchard trees (e.g., crabapples) still survive from earlier cultivation, but there is no commercial value assigned to them.

 

Habitation Sites: Habitation areas are characterized by man-made structures in

which humans live or work. Habitation sites are the least "natural" of the ten habitats, often comprised of a variety of grasses, ground covers, oranmental shrubs and trees (many of which are non-native). These areas are also often treated with herbacides or insectacides, and distrubance of the landscape, especially soils, is common. Most habitation sites are mowed on a reguar basis,

greatly restricting the types of plant species that can thrive. Many low growing,

broadleaf "weeds" can mingle with grass and ground covers, and large numbers of these "weeds" are invasive and non-native. Some species of animals do well in habitation sites, particularly those species that feed off certain ornamental flowers;

however, in some cases, habitation sites, while visually attractive, are comprised of sterile, hybrid plant species which are of limited nutritional value. Habitation sites generally have fewer animal species than more "natural" sites; however, some species of animals do well in habitation sites (e.g. rodents).

 

At Sky Meadows State Park, habitation sites are restricted to historical buildings

(Settle House) and outling buildings (e.g., barns). The historical area has substantial lawn areas comprised of grasses, clovers, and several common "weeds," including henbit, healall, purple deadnettle, and speedwells. Ornamental shrubs (forsythia) are found as well as ornamental trees (Kentuky coffeetree).

 

Conveyance Sites: Conveyance sites are characterized by long, linear, open spaces for buried gas lines, and above ground electrical poles or towers. Plant life in conveyance sites is usually controlled by mowing to ensure that construction and repair vechiles have access. Grasses, forbs and herbs are the most common types of plants, while shrub and trees are few. Conveyance sites often have fewer plant species, and many of  the species present are spread in dense clusters over extensive distrances. Conveyance sites, along with roadways and railroad lines, are an excellent habitats for invasive species to become established and spread.

 

 

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