The Secret World of Life Beneath the Winter Snows
Jonathan Pauli and Ben Zuckerberg Ph.D are professors in the UW-Madison Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology. They are members of a new breed of researchers called winter ecologists. The field focuses on relationships among animals, plants and their snow-covered environments. Snow covers some 40 percent of Earth's land masses year in and year out. Scientists are discovering, snow is critical to animals and plants that live in northern latitudes, as well as those in far southern latitudes, like Patagonia as it ensures their, and our, survival.
"Compared to other habitats, snow ecosystems have barely been explored," Pauli says. "That's a major oversight, considering how important snow is in the lives of so many species." Many plants and animals hunker down, relying on snow cover for safety from winter’s harsh conditions. The small area between the snowpack and the ground, called the subnivium, is a seasonal and sensitive refuge and might be the most important eoc-system that you have never heard of.
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