Cover image for The hidden forest : the biography of an ecosystem
The hidden forest : the biography of an ecosystem
Luoma, Jon R.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 228 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH105.O7 L87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
QH105.O7 L87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QH105.O7 L87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QH105.O7 L87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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From the leaves at the top of the canopy to the insects living deep beneath the soil, a forest is a complete, unfied ecosystem. each evetn, from the growth of a single sapling to a cataclysmic fire, is critical to the life of the forest as an organism.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The ecosystem in question is an Oregonian forest that has been preserved from logging since 1948; forestry specialists have since had the run of the place, and the story of their sylvan ward is here told by Luoma. In the larger view, his account tracks the evolution of forestry from a branch of tree-farming agriculture to a branch of ecology. In that transition, the Andrews Experimental Forest serves as a 16,000-acre test bed, but systematic study of it dates only from 1970. Accompanying the foresters on their inspection rounds, Luoma contributes an interested ear and synthesizes with textured prose what he hears. One senses the forest in his narrative and perceives its nuanced collective life in which everything, from subsoil fungi to decaying litter to canopy-dwelling lichen, plays an interlocking role. Compelling, too, is Luoma's fair treatment of the logging versus tree-hugging controversies that periodically wrack the Northwest, such as the recent spotted owl brouhaha. A perceptive and enticing story with elegant, meditative elements. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0805014918Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

The tallest species of spruce, hemlock, fir, cedar and pine trees on Earth coexist in the old growth of the Andrews Forest, in central Oregon, where decades of research by a cluster of scientists has raised the question, as Luoma puts it: "How does an entire ecosystem work?" Following some of those scientists through their woods, Luoma has created both a guide to the Andrews Forest and a book about why and how ecologists and foresters came to know the importance of old growth. In 1970, the Forest Service wanted to clear "inefficient" ancient forests, and even to scrap rotting logsÄbut ancient trees, experts were even then discovering, host irreplaceable flora and fauna, and rotten floating logs are key to healthy streams. Luoma shows how the Andrews team discovered the gaps, perils and horrors of the old pro-logging "scientific forestry," and what the new students of forests know instead. Hurt by the 1980 eruptions of Mt. St. Helen's, the Andrews area provoked political blowups later on, when it turned out to shelter the endangered spotted owl. And beyond the owls' fame lurk thousands of species whose importance to forest life is still being explored. Everything on or in the Andrews soil, for example, depends on the detritus-grinding work done by the jaws of one type of millipede. Like John McPhee, Luoma writes a clear reportorial prose, affable and supple enough to accommodate his range of facts, quotes and ideas. And, like McPhee, he explains natural science's recent discoveries by telling the stories of the discoverers. The result is an engaging yet serious outline of what we know about forestsÄand what experts are still finding out. Agent, the Young Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Luoma is a seasoned science writer whose previous books include Troubled Skies, Troubled Waters (LJ 12/1/83) and A Crowded Ark (LJ 12/87). Here he focuses on Andrews Experimental Forest, a 16,000-acre area within Oregon's Willamette National Forest that was set aside by the U.S. Forest Service in 1948 for scientific research. Luoma provides some historical background and describes current projects dealing with the forest canopy, rotting old-growth logs, insects, fungi, wildlife, streams, and fish. He incorporates stories about individual researchers and captures some of the excitement and wonder of scientific discovery. Luoma stresses the interconnectedness of the forest ecosystem throughout and urges caution in logging and forest management in general, since many species and ecological relationships remain hidden from human view, still waiting to be discovered. This book should give many readers a more complete understanding of ecology. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄWilliam H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

To the lay public, a forest is a stand of trees. Hidden deep in a forest are the less well known and some what secretive components; together with the trees they make up the so-called forest ecosystem. These different parts of an ecosystem interact with one another, transfer energy and materials that sustain the ecosystem, and maintain a diverse biological community. Generations of ecologists have tried to search for the processes and mechanisms of these ecosystem activities and piece them together into a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem functions. Using an ecologically well known study in the Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon's temperate rain forest as an example, Luoma's well-written book introduces the complex organization and functions of a forest ecosystem. The author interviewed many ecologists working on this multidisciplinary project and described their new findings in the book. He tells the stories of diverse life forms--plants, birds, insects, fungi--in the forest canopy, in fallen trees, on the forest floor and soil, their delicate relations, and how they support each other and function dynamically in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. General readers; undergraduates. P. P. Mou; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University