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Forest physiography 1
This volume, intended primarily for the use of foresters, will be of very
great value to ecologists, even to those working upon problems which are
unrelated to forests. Its field of usefulness extends farther still, for it is the
first work in which the much-scattered literature dealing with the physiography
of various parts of the United States has been summarized and systematized.
It will thus be frequently consulted by geologists, geographers, economists,
and travelers. The ecologist as a rule must work out for himself the physio-
graphic processes which are in immediate operation in his field of study. The
value of Professor Bowman's work will be found to lie principally along two
lines: in the clearing up of the physiographic history of the region, and in
comparison of the field of study with other parts of its physiographic region
and with other regions.
The book comprises two parts. Part I is entitled "The soil," and is a
summary of the present knowledge of that subject as it pertains to forest
growth. This section is included because the influence of the physiographic
processes upon forests is exerted largely through the formation, modification,
and destruction of soils. It seems to the present writer that a better plan
would have been to expand this section into a separate work, since the two
parts of the book are essentially independent. The topics treated are as
follows: importance, origin, and diversity of soils; physical features; water
supply; temperature; chemical features; humus and nitrogen supply; soils
of arid regions; soil classification.
In part II the physiography of the United States is considered by regions,
each subdivision having "an essential uniformity or unity of geologic and
physiographic conditions," and therefore a uniform topographic expression
in the main. The sequence is from west to east. An introductory chapter
discusses physiographic, climatic, and forest regions. In consideration of
climate, full recognition is given to the combined effect of the various factors
upon plant distribution, and yet Merriam's "life zones" are accepted, although
they are based upon temperature alone.
The chapters devoted to the various physiographic regions are largely
descriptive of the present topography, with only such geologic details as are
necessary to explain it. As the author remarks in the preface, the forester
"Bowman, Isaiah, Forest physiography, pp. xxii+759. pis. 6. figs. 292. New
York: John Wiley & Son, 191 1.
i 9 i2] CURRENT LITERATURE 167
is concerned with the relief of a region rather than with its geologic history.
At the same time, the historical treatment is entirely adequate to satisfy the
needs of an ecologist, and abundant references to the literature are given for
the benefit of any who wish more detailed information. To illustrate the
mode of treatment, the section devoted to the Adirondack Mountains may
be cited. The subdivisions are as follows: geologic structure, topography
and drainage, glacial effects, climate and forests.
The notes upon the forests which are appended to most of the sections
are the least satisfactory portions of the work, being so brief and general as
to be almost useless, and in one case at least inaccurate. The conifer forest
of the southern Appalachian summits is referred to in three places. On p. 122
it is correctly described as "spruce and balsam." On p. 125 we read of the
"spruce and hemlock forests on the summits of the Pisgah and other ranges
in western North Carolina, where boreal conditions exist." The hemlock
in these mountains is found principally in deep ravines in the lower hardwood
forest belt, and rarely attains to the lower margin of the spruce-balsam forest.
On p. 614 occurs the statement that "on the higher summits of the Great
Smoky, Pisgah, and Balsam Mountains are a few thousand acres of black
spruce," with no mention of the balsam, which is the more important of the
two. On the same page, the author places the hemlock where it rightly
belongs, in "shaded ravines and on the better watered northern or north-
western slopes between 3000 and 5000 feet."
The book is adequately illustrated and has valuable physiographic and
geologic maps. Its great weight is to be regretted, in a volume which one
would wish to carry upon his travels. — William S. Cooper.
A Yosemite flora
Professor and Mrs. H. M. Hall of the University of California are pioneers
in the production of a local flora or handbook of one of our great natural
playgrounds. Scores and scores of other local floras have been produced,
but these have been as a rule mere check lists, and in all cases were intended
to meet a local need. In this Flora of the Yosemite 2 we have a handbook that
will find its largest use among strangers to the region. It is hardly necessary
to call attention to the small size of this National Park as compared with the
size of the great state of California, nor to the great size of the Park botanically
considered. Within its 1024 square miles there are probably more kinds of
soil and climate than can be found in any equal area in the world. This
varied topography and climate have supplied the 955 species included in the
flora. The grasses, sedges, and rushes are not included, but the authors
conservatively estimate that these would swell the number to 1200, a number
probably as great as that of an entire state in the prairie region.
2 Hall, Harvey Monroe and Carlotta Case, A Yosemite flora. San Fran-
cisco: Paul Elder & Co. $2 . 16.