Extension, Utah State University
Aspen have long been known for supporting lush vegetation and rich wildlife habitat. These features, alongside brilliant green and gold seasonal coloration, accompany a broadly appreciated aesthetic for aspen forests by the public-at-large. However, in earlier times timber producers in many locales considered aspen to have low value and actively eliminated them. More recent research has pointed out that relative moisture held within aspen communities facilitates a wide array of species – collectively, biodiversity – compared to surrounding vegetation types. Aspen groves in the Intermountain West, for example, are known to be second only to riparian forests is supporting the greatest number of species. This newer image of aspen as an enabler of many plants and animals, a “keystone species,” has greatly changed how we view, manage, and (in some cases) restore these important ecosystems.
Rogers, P. C. 2019. Biodiversity within aspen forests. Western Aspen Alliance. Utah State University, Logan, UT. WAA Brief #7.