Minnesota’s Natural Heritage

Second Edition

2020
Authors:

John R. Tester, Susan M. Galatowitsch, Rebecca A. Montgomery, and John J. Moriarty

Minnesota’s Natural Heritage

The definitive work on Minnesota’s natural history and ecology—updated, expanded, and copiously illustrated to account for profound changes to the state’s natural landscape over the past twenty-five years

The second edition of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage introduces readers to the major ecosystems—the lakes and rivers, forests and prairies, farmlands and wetlands—that give our state its rich and varied character and have been profoundly altered in the twenty-five years since the book’s first edition.

Anyone with a deep affection for Minnesota’s natural resources, highly seasonal and variable climate, diverse ecosystems, and beautiful landscapes should read the second edition of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage. This book chronicles the evolution of our state’s natural systems and the challenges of sustainably managing them in the context of climate change. It should be part of every home reference library.

Mark Seeley, author of Minnesota Weather Almanac

The story of Minnesota’s natural landscape, reaching back to the time of the glaciers, covers at least 12,000 years. Yet even against that vast expanse, recent decades have significantly transformed the natural world that is Minnesota’s greatest resource. In the twenty-five years since the first publication of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage, the definitive volume on the state’s natural history and ecology, human activity and climate change have profoundly altered the major ecosystems that give our state its rich and varied character.

The second edition of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage introduces readers to these ecosystems—the lakes and rivers, forests and prairies, farmlands and wetlands—and explains how they have come to be, how they function, and how they have changed so rapidly and dramatically in recent years. Full-color illustrations document the state’s striking natural beauty in all its vigor and fragility, while maps, drawings, diagrams, and graphs amplify points of historical, ecological, and geological interest.

The most complete treatment of Minnesota’s natural environment, compiled and accessibly written by scientists whose collective knowledge spans the book’s expansive content, Minnesota’s Natural Heritage is the one indispensable companion for both visitors and inhabitants, as enlightening to page through as it is valuable to study.
Minnesota’s Natural Heritage

John R. Tester (1929–2019) was emeritus professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. He was a lifelong scientist and naturalist who witnessed many changes to Minnesota’s ecosystems. He published numerous articles and research papers on wildlife and ecosystem ecology.

Susan M. Galatowitsch is professor and head of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota. She is author of Ecological Restoration and Restoring Prairie Wetlands: An Ecological Approach. She and her research team focus on wetland and grassland restoration and invasive species management.

Rebecca A. Montgomery is a professor in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota. She started her career as a tropical biologist before returning to Minnesota. Her research focuses on forest ecology and tree biology.

John J. Moriarty is senior manager of wildlife for Three Rivers Park District. He was a natural resources manager for Ramsey County Parks and Hennepin Parks, as well as a community faculty member at Metropolitan State University. He has written five books on Minnesota natural history, including Amphibians and Reptiles in Minnesota (Minnesota, 2014) and A Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities (Minnesota, 2018).
Minnesota’s Natural Heritage

Anyone with a deep affection for Minnesota’s natural resources, highly seasonal and variable climate, diverse ecosystems, and beautiful landscapes should read the second edition of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage. This book chronicles the evolution of our state’s natural systems and the challenges of sustainably managing them in the context of climate change. It should be part of every home reference library.

Mark Seeley, author of Minnesota Weather Almanac

This second edition of Minnesota's Natural Heritage is just as engaging as the first and is supported with beautiful photos, illustrations, and graphs. But now readers learn of new and serious threats facing Minnesota’s prairies, forests, and waters. Will we restore and protect this natural legacy for future generations? For anyone who cares about nature, this book is a must read.

Peggy Ladner, former director, The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota*

Dr. Tester was my favorite professor at the University of Minnesota. I bought his book’s first edition immediately when it came out, and I have waited with anticipation for the update. It does not disappoint. His immense knowledge of ecology and of Minnesota are in full display and in a voice that everyone can understand. Outstanding!

Tom Landwehr, executive director, Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

John R. Tester and colleagues’ new edition inspires Minnesotans—and others who appreciate this great state—with information about our precious natural resources, including ways to protect and restore them from long-standing environmental problems and new challenges such as climate change. The book explores each of the biomes in Minnesota, listing the species and ecology one can find there and the ways we can work to restore its glory.

Jessica Hellmann, director, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota

Minnesota’s Natural Heritage

Contents

Preface to the Second Edition

Preface to the First Edition

Acknowledgments

1. The Landscape

Geologic History

Changing Landscapes Since Glaciation

The Present Landscape

2. Climate and Weather

Solar Radiation

Temperature

Precipitation

Clouds

Wind

Observed Climate Change

3. Principles of Ecology

Environment

Ecosystem Structure and Function

Populations and Communities

4. Deciduous Forest

Deciduous Forest Ecology

Animals and Community Interactions

Forest Management and Conservation in Minnesota

5. Northern Coniferous Forest

Northern Coniferous Forest Ecology

Animals and Community Interactions

Present Status of the Northern Coniferous Forest

6. Tallgrass Prairie

Prairie Forest Border

Tallgrass Prairie Ecology

Animals and Community Interactions

Present Status of the Tallgrass Prairie

7. Wetlands

Prairie Wetlands

Animals and Community Interactions in Prairie Wetlands

Peatlands

Animals and Community Interactions in Peatlands

Other Wetlands Occurring in Minnesota

Present Status of Wetlands

8. Lakes

Formation and Distribution

Physical and Chemical Characteristics

Lake Communities

Ecosystem Function

Animals and Community Interactions

Minnesota’s Lakes

Present Status of Minnesota’s Lakes

9. Streams and Rivers

Origins of Streams and Rivers

Physical and Chemical Characteristics

Stream Communities

Ecosystem Function

River Continuum Concept

Animals and Community Interactions

Minnesota’s Streams and Rivers

Present Status of Minnesota’s Streams and Rivers

10. The Future

Stemming Habitat Loss

Feeding a Growing Human Population Sustainably

Adapting to a Changing Climate

Reversing the Spread of Invasive Species

Reducing Damaging Chemicals in the Environment

Recovering Threatened Species Populations

Planning Statewide Conservation Action

Restoring Ecosystems

A Perspective to Live With

Appendixes

A. Counties and Major Rivers in Minnesota

B. Trees and Shrubs Found in Minnesota

C. Common Herbs Found in Minnesota

D. Mammals Found in Minnesota

E. Birds Breeding in Minnesota

F. Amphibians and Reptiles Found in Minnesota

G. Fishes Found in Minnesota

H. Metric Equivalents of English Weights and Measures

Literature Cited

Permissions

Index