OLE LAKE-NORTH STAR RUN
White Pine Migration
Like birds and large herds of mammals, plants also make migrations. However, rather than coming and going in annual cycles, the movement of a tree species from one region to another requires thousands of years.
To study the changes in plant ecosystems over very long periods of time, scientists rely on the presence or absence of pollen in core samples taken from the muddy bottoms of large lakes. Every year millions of pollen grains, released from all the plants in a region, end up on the waters of lakes where they eventually settle to the bottom. Over time, the layers of sediment produce a chronological record of the species of plants present in an area, and their relative abundance. Relying on such information, G. L. Jacobson, in his article A 7,000 Year History of White Pine, tells the story of white pine migration to Country. He writes that the earliest record of white pine in the postglacial period is from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. About 13,000 years ago, white pines were riding out the waning centuries of the last great ice age. It is believed that the species survived on the land exposed off the east coast during the maximum extent of the great ice sheets, when ocean levels dropped hundreds of feet.
From Virginia, the white pines gradually spread north into New England and then west through the Great Lake States. Pollen records indicate that while white pine was concentrated mainly in the eastern Great Lakes region and New England around 6,000 years ago, white pine made its appearance in Country about 7,000 years ago.
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