July 20, 2010

Harvard Forest Plot Underway

by David A. Orwig

Harvard Forest researchers, with the assistance of scientists from CTFS-SIGEO, began the census of woody stems on June 1, 2010. The 35-ha plot is dominated by eastern hemlock and northern hardwood species and will make an excellent comparison with several other hardwood plots in North America and China at similar latitudes.

To date, over 13,000 stems have been tagged, mapped, and measured, representing approximately 4.5 hectares. Some of the quadrats were particularly dense, containing dense thickets of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). Over the course of the summer, Forest Ecologist David Orwig and six crew members will continue sampling in the western portion of the plot.

The Harvard Forest plot forms part of a global array of large-scale plots established by CTFS-SIGEO, which recently expanded sampling efforts into temperate forests to explore ecosystem processes beyond population dynamics and biodiversity. The geography and size of the plot (500 m x 700 m) was designed to include a continuous, expansive, and varied natural forest landscape that will yield opportunities for the study of forest dynamics and demography while capturing a large amount of existing science infrastructure (e.g., eddy flux towers, gauged sections of a small watershed, existing smaller permanent plots) that will enable the integrated study of ecosystem processes (e.g., biogeochemistry, hydrology, carbon dynamics) and forest dynamics. Thus the resulting data will integrate well with ongoing NSF-funded LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) and NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) studies.