Dean M. Chriss
The Ancestor, Old Growth Forest, Mount Rainier
(Click image to enlarge)
This ancient and long dead tree stands in a remote corner of Mount Rainier National Park. In ancient forest ecosystems, dead wood is as important as live trees. When large trees die they may stand for over two hundred years before falling. Then, they may take another two hundred to five hundred years to fully decay, slowly releasing tons of nutrients back into the ecosystem. During this process the tree will support over three thousand species of invertebrates, nearly two hundred species of birds and mammals, and nearly a thousand different plants, mosses, and lichens.