University of Wisconsin- River Falls

Agricultural Education Forestry Curriculum and Resources

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Unit 5 - Forest Ecology


At the end of this unit, students will be able to:

1. Define ecology and ecosystem, and apply them to a forest.
2. Identify the major components, processes, and relationships between the living and/or nonliving elements of a forest ecosystem.
3. Explain why there are different types in different locations, and why different forest types can occur in the same location over time.
4. Correctly use the common terms associated with forest ecosystems.
5. Relate principles of forest ecology to forest management.

Unit Concepts and Associated Resources:


I. What is ecology, and specifically forest ecology?
II. What is an ecosystem, and specifically a forest ecosystem?
III. Basic components and structure of forest ecosystem.
IV. Basic dynamic processes associated with living and nonliving elements within a forest ecosystem.
V. Different forest ecosystem/types and factors that contribute to the differences.
VI. Meaning of the term "site" as used in forest land classifications, and the use of "site index" to measure the quality/productivity capacity of a specific forest site.
VII. Connecting knowledge of forest ecology/ecosystems to forest management.

High School Forestry Textbook Resources:

1. Rolfe - Chapter 4
2. Burton - Chapter 2 and 5

Forestry Information Resources:

1. FMD Chapter 8
2. WFMG Chapter 7


1. Forest Soils of Wisconsin: An Overview, Produced by: UWEX Cooperative Extension, Publication number: G3452, Keywords: silviculture, soil, tree, growth
2. Forest Succession, Produced by: UW-Madison Department of Forest Ecology and Management, 1996, Publication number: Forestry Fact 78, Keywords: definition, succession, silviculture
3. Tolerance of Tree Species, Produced by: UW-Madison Department of Forest Ecology and Management, 1996, Publication number: Forestry Fact 79, Keywords: definition, tolerance, silviculture

Activity Suggestions:

1. Burton - p. 156
2. Burton Lab Manual - Chapter 5 - Exercises 1 & 2
3. ECO - pp. 5-14, Activity 6
4. PLT - Acclivities 23, 29, 45, 70
5. LEAF: 5-6: Activity 3, 7-8: Lessons 1 & 2, Field Enhancement 3

(See the list of references for full information on each resource listed)