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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: Harvard Forest Mega-plot: survey and initial census
  • Principal investigator: David Orwig (orwig@fas.harvard.edu)
  • Institution: Harvard Forest
  • Primary contact: David Orwig (orwig@fas.harvard.edu)
  • Team members: Jason Aylward; Stuart Davies; Aaron Ellison; David Foster; Kyle Krigest; Arielle Link; Xiujuan Qiao; Henrietta Reily; Jessica Shue; Ronny Vallejos; Shunzhong Wang
  • Abstract:

    We developed a large, 35 ha plot at the Harvard Forest (HF) to sample forest ecosystem dynamics and processes. This plot is part of the Center for Tropical Forest Science�s (CTFS) global array of large-scale plots. Harvard Forest is one of the most intensively studied forest landscapes in the world with an unrivaled understanding of forest and landscape dynamics, a well established system of long-term measurements of atmosphere-biosphere exchanges, hydrology and biogeochemistry, and an integrated research team in the NSF-funded Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) and National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) programs and DOE-funded Terrestrial Carbon (TCP) program. As CTFS seeks to expand into temperate forests and explore ecosystem processes beyond population dynamics and biodiversity, the HF plot presents an excellent site for both research and the demonstration of integrated studies in large forest plots. In addition, this temperate forest plot, consisting of eastern hemlock and northern hardwood species, makes an excellent comparison with several other hardwood plots in North America and Chin at similar latitudes.
    The additional overlay of information provided by the large plot, as well as the opportunity to undertake comparative studies with other temperate and tropical plots within CTFS, will augment the HF program considerably. With ongoing growth in the plant program at Harvard there exists the opportunity to use this collaborative effort between the Forest, HUH and the Arnold Arboretum to develop an integrated platform for research, teaching and training at the undergraduate and graduate levels that surpasses any previous efforts. The potential also exists for expanding further and incorporating thrusts addressing microbial, molecular, and animal studies to create a truly broad center for education.
    The geography and size of the proposed plot (500 m x 700 m rectangular plot;Figure 1) captures a large amount of existing science infrastructure while including a continuous and expansive natural forest landscape that will yield opportunities for the study of forest dynamics and demography that are consistent with the CTFS network of plots world-wide. We used standardized CTFS methods of re-measuring, mapping, and tagging all individual woody stems equal to or greater than 1 cm dbh. With funding from CTFS, installation of 20 x 20 m plots began in early March, 2010 the tree census began summer of 2010 and was completed in march of 2014. Re-census began in may of 2018 and was completed in September of 2019 (except the central swamp area).