Dukes Research Natural Area

[photo:] Dukes RNA. Photo by Lucy Tyrrell, USDA Forest Service.

The RNA contains well stocked, mature northern hardwood forests that have been undisturbed for over 90 years. Five forest types are represented, ranging from sugar maple (Acer saccharum) dominated hardwood stands on mesic sites, to swamp-conifer forests on the wet lowlands. The other sites are dominated by eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), red maple (Acer rubrum), black ash (Fraxinus nigra) and American elm (Ulmus americana).

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
Records dating from 1900 to the present are available from Michigan State University Experiment Farm at Chatham, 10 miles (16 km) east of the RNA.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
As a result of its proximity to Lake Superior, the climate of the area is unusual for this latitude. Mean snowfall is 100-110 inches (254-279 cm), and mean annual precipitation is 33 inches (84 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
Mean monthly temperatures range from 17.3 ºF in January to 76 ºF in July.
Elevations range from 1070 to 1100 feet (349-359 m).
Geology and Soils:
The area occupies a glacial till plain with little relief. The till has variable depths and is a reddish-brown, sandy loam that is slightly acidic, derived from sandstone, and usually free of rock. The underlying rock may be either Cambrian sandstone or Precambrian strata. The site includes the following soil series: Munising, Skanee, Angelica, Longrie, Bonduel, Ruse, Linwood muck and Chippeny muck.
Aquatic Features:
Surface water flows from the area via a series of swamps and a small temporary stream.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Northern Great Lakes (212H)
West Green Bay Till Plain (212Hb)
Plant Communities:
Quercus prinus, Quercus velutina, Sassafras albidum, Carya spp.
SAF Cover Types (list acres): Kuchler Types (list acres):
23 Eastern hemlock (5)  
24 Hemlock-yellow birch (32)  
27 Sugar maple (94)  
37 Northern white cedar (45)  
39 Black ash-American elm-red maple (57)  

View or download Complete Plant List (pdf)

Common Shrub Species:
Mountain maple (Acer spicatum), speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), leatherwood (Dirca palustris), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), pin-cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), Ribes sp., bramble (Rubus sp.), autumn willow (Salix serissima), American yew (Taxus canadensis), dogwood (Cornus sp.), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), common mountain holly (Nemopanthus mucronata), Vaccinium sp., red berried elder (Sambucus pubens).
Common Herbaceous Species:
Common Mammal Species:
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), deer mouse (Peromyscus sp.), red-backed vole (Clethrionomys sp.), least chipmunk (Eutamais sp.), eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), flying squirrel (Glaucomys sp.), short-tailed shrew (Blarina sp.), American common shrew (Sorex cinereus), snowshoe rabbit (Lepus americanus), black bear (Ursus americanus), North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum).
Common Bird Species:
Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), American woodcock (Scolopax minor).

Related Reports and Publications

Establishment Record of the Dukes Research Natural Area within the Hiawatha National Forest. Unpublished report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, 17 pages.

Janowiak, M.K., L.M. Nagel, and C.R. Webster. 2008. Spatial scale and stand structure in northern hardwoods: Implications for quantifying diameter distributions. Forest Science 54: 497–506.

Liechty, Hal O.; Martin F. Jurgensen; Glenn D. Mroz; Margaret R. Gale 1997. Pit and mound topography and its influence on storage of carbon, nitrogen, and organic matter within an old-growth forest. Can. J. For. Res. 27:1992-1997.

Mroz, G., Gale, M., Jurgensen, M., and H. Liechty. 1996. Comparing forest floor conditions in three old-growth RNAs with managed forests in the Northern Great Lakes Section. Unpublished Project Report.

Papaik, Michael J., C. D. Canham, E. F. Latty, K. D. Woods. 2005. Effects of an introduced pathogen on resistance to natural disturbance: beech bark disease and windthrow. Can. J. For. Res. 35: 1832-1843.

Wierda, M.R. 2008. Foraging ecology of pileated woodpeckers in Dukes Experimental Forest in the upper peninsula of Michigan. M.S. Thesis, Northern Michigan University, 69 P.

Woods, Kerry D.; Hicks, David J.; Schultz, Jan. 2012. Losses in understory diversity over three decades in an old-growth cool-temperate forest in Michigan, USA. Can. J. For. Res. 42: 532–549.

Kerry D. Woods. 2009. Multi-decade, spatially explicit population studies of canopy dynamics in Michigan old-growth forests. Ecology 90:3587.

Woods, K.D. 2007. Predictability, contingency, and convergence in late succession: slow systems and complex data-sets. Journal of Vegetation Science 18: 543-554.

Woods, Kerry D. 2004. Intermediate disturbance in a late-successional hemlock-northern hardwood forest. Journal of Ecology 92: 464-476.

Woods, Kerry D. 2000. Long-term change and spatial pattern in a late-successional hemlock-northern hardwood forest. Journal of Ecology 88: 267-282.

Last Modified: May 20, 2021