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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2021

  • Title: Uncovering Land Use Histories: How Disturbance Impacts Forested Sites in the National Ecological Observatory Network
  • Author: Samantha V Olivares-Mejia (Haverford College)
  • Abstract:

    Forests are widely studied to help understand and combat climate change as they are an integral part of the global ecosystem aiding in climate regulation, water supply, and biomass production. Information on historic land disturbance is needed to understand modern biodiversity and productivity trends in forests as well as make informed decisions regarding future land use, however spatial information on historic land use is limited. This project investigates the historical land use of forested sites within the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) which provides data for research projects across the United States. Land use histories were collated from site archives, public databases and primary investigators for forested NEON sites. The data was then standardized and merged into pre-existing spatial files using R. For sites that did not have previous spatial files, historical aerial photographs and maps were digitized using QGIS. Fifteen data products were created which contain detailed information on local disturbances over time for the Bartlett Experimental Forest(BART) and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center(SERC) with historic land use dating back into the late 19th century. Collated land use histories will help close a knowledge gap for future research projects at forested NEON sites. The incorporation of historic spatial information will also increase the predictive ability of forecasting models and effectiveness of forest management strategies.

  • Research Category: Historical and Retrospective Studies