Muir Woods Nature Detectives

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Fog Notebook


Oyster Mushrooms This mushroom grows out of dead wood when conditions are moist. Several forest animals eat the oyster mushroom, such as chipmunks, squirrels and banana slugs. What would the forest be like without the mushrooms? Oyster Mushroom - click to see larger picture
Salamander The pacific giant salamander lives in moist places. The shade and water of the redwood forest makes a good home for salamanders. This salamander can grow to be as long as a ruler you use to measure. When scared, the salamander makes a sound like a barking dog. It eats banana slugs, wood mice and small insects. What would happen to the salamander if its habitat was no longer moist? Salamander - click to see larger picture
Banana Slugs The banana slug is a decomposer. It eats dead leaves, some insects, mushrooms and a few live plants. The biggest banana slug grew to be 10 inches long! It lives in redwood forests because it likes shady and wet environments. How would this animal survive if there were less water? Banana Slug - click to see larger picture
Western Sword Fern This plant is found all over the redwood forest. The hanging leaves of the fern give places to hide to animals like the Pacific wren and the Sonoma chipmunk. New leaves of the sword fern are eaten by deer. This tree depends on fog and fog drip for much of its water during the summertime. What might happen to the forest community if sword ferns disappeared? Sword Fern - click to see larger picture
Bracken Fern The Bracken Fern is one of more than ten types of ferns. Ferns need shady and moist environments to live in or they will dry up quickly. The spores from the fern's Bracken Fern - click to see larger picture
Polypod fern This plant doesn't grow in soil - it grows on other plants, like moss. When a plant grows on another plant it is called an epiphyte. The polypod ferns of Muir Woods are found growing into the moss on trees and rocks during the wet winter and moist spring. Polypod Fern - click to see larger picture
Fog Drip As the summer fog blows over the redwood's needles water collects and falls to the forest floor. This fog drip keeps the other plants of the forest moist. Without the summertime fog many plants of the forest would have trouble surviving in the summertime when there is no rain. Fog Drip - click to see larger picture
Redwoods The California coast redwood is the worlds tallest living organism. It grows tall so its needles can drink the fog that blows in off the ocean. Because they are so tall, the redwood forest is a very wet and shady place. How do you think the redwood forest would change if there were no more fog? Redwoods - click to see larger picture
Fog Fog is a major source of water for the forest during the summertime. The summer sun evaporating the ocean's water creates the fog. It helps keep the temperature cool and the environment moist. Fog - click to see larger picture
Pacific wren The Pacific wren is a small bird that lives in the redwood forest all year. It spends its day hopping around sword ferns in search of insects to eat. How do you think the Pacific wren depends on the fog? Pacific wren - click to see larger picture
Northern-Spotted Owl This owl is native to Muir Woods and makes its home in tall trees and cool environments of the west coast. It hunts for dusky-footed wood rats at night. How do you think a change in the fog might affect an owl? Spotted Owl - click to see larger picture
Redwood Sorrel Redwood sorrel is the delicate plant that carpets the shady floor of the redwood forest. In the summertime this plant gets its water from the fog that drips off of the redwood's needles. Without fog this plant would not be as abundant. Redwood Sorrel - click to see larger picture
Albino Redwood You've found something special! Sometimes a mutant albino redwood grows off the roots of a regular tree. Albinos are white, with no chlorophyll. Since they can't make their own food from sunlight, they take it from the regular tree. They need to drink more water than normal redwoods the same size or they'll dry up and die. Why do you think these trees need more water than others? Albino Redwood - click to see larger picture
Black-tailed Deer The black-tailed deer depends on many of the shade and water loving plants of the redwood forest. Sorrel, miners lettuce and ferns are some of the deer's favorite things to eat in the forest. How Black-tailed Deer - click to see larger picture
Moss Moss grows in the shady and wet parts of the forest. It grows on tree trunks, rocks and fences. Because it is so moist other plants can grow their roots into the moss. The summertime fog keeps this plant from drying up and dying completely. Moss - click to see larger picture
Redwood Snail The redwood snail, also called the Pacific sideband, lives in moist shady forests along the Pacific coast and eat mainly decomposing plant material. These snails are commonly found in trees in late spring; but hibernate under moss or leaf litter at the bases of bigleaf maple trees. How do you think a lack of fog might affect the habitat of a redwood snail? Redwood Snail - click to see larger picture
Dusky-footed woodrat The Dusky-footed woodrat is nocturnal - it comes out at night. What adaptations does this animal have to help it survive in the forest? What animals might hunt for a Dusky-footed woodrat? Dusky Footed Woodrat - click to see larger picture
Fallen Tree This tree fell in the year 2007 and was older than 600 years when it fell. Its trunk was more than seven feet wide and more than 180 feet. That's less than half the height of the world's tallest tree! Redwoods height helps them reach the fog. Fallen Tree - click to see larger picture
Toyon Toyon is a plant that survives better in sunnier and dryer places. The plant grows a small berry that is a food for some animals. Why do you think this plant doing so well in this forest scene? Toyon - click to see larger picture
Snag A snag is a dead standing tree. These snags are habitat for many insects and fungus. Animals like woodpeckers love to search for food here. The tree here broke on a dry summer night. How could the weather have been responsible for the tree falling? Snag - click to see larger picture
Burl The big lumps on the redwood tree are called burls. Burls are where redwoods store energy to grow new trees or branches in case they are injured. The burl is why redwoods grow in circles. Burl and Sprouts - click to see larger picture
Burl Sprouts Burl sprouts need lots of water until they can make their own roots. This is the way redwoods usually make new trees. If there is no fog in the summer time what could happen to the redwood trees? Burl and Sprouts - click to see larger picture
Broken Branches When branches do not get enough water they can dry up and fall off the tree. This creates good habitat for small animals, but also can be fuel for a fire. What does this mean for a forest that has no fog? Broken Branches - click to see larger picture
Bay Trees The bay tree loves sunlight and grows in twisted shapes to get to it. It drops a small nut that many animals like to eat. This tree is found all over the forest and grows very easily. How would a change in the fog affect this plant? Bay Leaves - click to see larger picture
Sun gap After a tree falls there is a big gap in the forest's canopy. This lets sunshine to come into the forest, which helps other kinds of plants grow. Sun Gap - click to see larger picture
Hairy Woodpecker Hairy woodpeckers make their home in the redwood forest and live there year round. They spend much of the day pecking into the bark of dead bay trees in search of insects. The female hairy woodpecker lacks the red-colored crest on her head. How might removing some of the dead trees in the forest affect this bird? Hairy Woodpecker - click to see larger picture
Sonoma Chipmunk The Sonoma chipmunk eats seeds, nuts, berries and other plants. Animals that do not eat other animals are called herbivores. The chipmunks scurry around the forest in search of food during the day. Can you think of an animal from the forest that might depend on the chipmunks as a food source? Chipmunk - click to see larger picture
Grey Squirrel Grey squirrels collect many of the nuts that grow on trees on the drier an d warmer forest edge. If the fog disappears do you think there would be more squirrels in the forest, or less? How come? Grey Squirrel - click to see larger picture
Grey Fox The grey fox is an omnivore at the top of the food chain. It hunts other small animals once the sun has gone down. It also eats plants and berries. It can use its hooked claws to climb trees and search for food in the tree tops. What might happen to this animal if some of its favorite foods disappeared? Grey Fox - click to see larger picture
Pileated woodpecker This is the largest woodpecker in the United States. It makes its home in the redwood forest and eats insects that live inside of dead trees. It uses its specialized beak to bore into wood. What other reasons might a woodpecker bore into wood? Pileated Woodpecker - click to see larger picture
Steller's Jay Steller's Jays are the blue birds seen near the forest's sunny edge. The bird eats insects, seeds and nuts, but often scavenges for human food. Do you think there will be more of these birds without fog? Why? Stellar's Jay - click to see larger picture