Highlights from the Andrews Forest Program are listed below. Also see "LTER Transformative Science" for a list of important contributions to ecological science from the Andrews Forest program, compiled at the request of the National Science Foundation.
The Andrews Forest program and OSU Extension are collaborating in a Citizen Science project on climate and ecology. The project, Season Trackers, enlists citizen scientists to make weather and phenology observations in their communities around the state by recruiting from the ranks of people already involved with Extension’s many programs statewide, including many in rural areas. The data will help Andrews scientists expand the scale and inference of their research activities beyond the boundaries of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. Learn more about the program through the Oregon Season Tracker website. The website has information about how to become involved, upcoming trainings, and resources to help volunteers with observations.
Monitoring birds across the landscape with new tools
Andrews Forest scientists recently recieved a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop computer software that will identify birds by song, a tool that will allow researchers to more easily monitor birds across a landscape. Raviv Raich and Xiaoli Fern (OSU Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and avian ecologist Matthew Betts (OSU Forest Ecosystems and Society) lead the project titled “Computational Methods for Bioacoustic Avian Species Monitoring”. The main thrust of the project is further development of machine learning techniques for automated interpretation of recordings of bird song to identify species and their movement across the landscape during the summer season. Several years of recordings of bird songs at many locations across the Andrews Forest landscape (currently >12 TB of data) will be used to test the techniques and address ecological questions relating to phenological shifts in bird arrival in relation to food availability. The tool will be adaptable to many ecosystems, but will be tested first by addressing bird response to environmental change, including climate variability in the Andrews Forest and land use in Costa Rica. See http://www.forestry.oregonstate.edu/bioacoustics-birdland and http://oregonstate.edu/terra/2010/07/birding-by-ear-online/ for more detail.
Andrews Forest LTER Receives $6.7M Grant from NSF
The HJ Andrews Experimental Forest Long Term Ecological Research program has received a six-year, $6.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to examine how forested mountain ecosystems respond to changes in climate and land-use and how people interact with the forest through ethical decision-making. Research will be focused on a central question: How do climate, natural disturbance and land use as controlled by forest governance interact with biodiversity, hydrology and carbon and nutrient dynamics? Researchers will continue to address issues such as the transport of carbon and other nutrients through air and water flows. They will study the decomposition of organic matter and changes in the timing of events such as the blossoming of plants and insect emergence from streams.
Full press release on LTER7 at http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2014/oct/hj-andrews-research-forest-federal-funding-renewed
Andrews LTER joins the SCALER cross-site stream experiment
In summer 2014 the Andrews Forest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site joined other LTER sites in the “Scale, Consumers and Lotic Ecosystem Rates” (SCALER) project, led by Walter Dodds (Konza LTER). Funded by the National Science Foundation, SCALER is a cross-site project designed to understand structure and function of aquatic systems.
At the Andrews LTER site, scientists Alba Argerich (OSU) and Brooke Penaluna (US Forest Service Pacific Northwest station) led a team of researchers to assess the effects of consumers—including the Cutthroat Trout and the Pacific Giant Salamander (the largest salamander in North America)—on primary production, ecosystem respiration and nutrient cycling.
Read more and see photos in the LTER Network Newsletter, Fall 2014, Vol. 27 No. 3
Hydrologic and biogeochemical controls of carbon flux
Researchers will be studying how carbon is processed, exported, and stored within headwater streams of the westetn Oregon Cascasde mountains, using the Andrews Forest as a primary field site. Roy Haggerty and Steve Wondzell will lead the project, funded by a grant from the National Foundation. Their work on how hydrology and biogeochemistry interact to control carbon in headwater streams will help scientists understand the role of streams in the global carbon budget. [Read More...]
Story Map Dashboard of Webcams and Streaming Data
A Simple Story Map-based Real-Time Dashboard for the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. (new post in GIS and Science gisandscience.com/ )
As a charter member of the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, the site contributes to the collection of long-term datasets to support research on ecological issues that can last decades. Using Esri’s story maps technology, a simple map-based dashboard was developed to let researchers, administrators, and the general public view real-time data from 125 different sensors including webcams, stream gauges, and weather stations deployed throughout the forest.
Large, old trees fix more carbon than younger trees
Long-term vegetation study plots at the Andrews Forest were part of a global analysis that showed that growth rate increased continuously with tree size and that large, old trees fix large amounts of carbon compared to smaller trees. These findings go against a widely-held assumption that after an initial period of increasing growth, the mass growth rate of individual trees declines with increasing tree size.
The full study, which appears in the journal, Nature, can be found at www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12914.html
Stephenson, N. L., A. J. Das, R. Condit, S. E. Russo, P. J. Baker, N. G. Beckman, D. A. Coomes, E. R. Lines, W. K. Morris, N. Rüger, E. Álvarez, C. Blundo, S. Bunyavejchewin, G. Chuyong, S. J. Davies, á. Duque, C. N. Ewango, O. Flores, J. F. Franklin, H. R. Grau, Z. Hao, M. E. Harmon, S. P. Hubbell, D. Kenfack, Y. Lin, J.-R. Makana, A. Malizia, L. R. Malizia, R. J. Pabst, N. Pongpattananurak, S.-H. Su, I.-F. Sun, S. Tan, D. Thomas, P. J. van Mantgem, X. Wang, S. K. Wiser, and M. A. Zavala. 2014. Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size. Nature.
Studying 50 Years of Vegetation Change
The abundant herb and shrub communities that develop after disturbances, such as logging or burning, are drawing increasing attention as critical habitats for many invertebrates, birds, and other animals. Permanent vegetation plots established by Ted Dyrness in 1962, in two clearcut and burned watersheds of the Andrews Forest, provide the longest, most detailed records of changes in understory vegetation as these systems revert to closed-canopy forests. In a recent publication, Charlie Halpern (University of Washington) and Jim Lutz (Utah State) observed that over three decades of measurement in Watersheds 1 and 3, tree cover increased fourfold, and biomass more than two orders of magnitude. Surprisingly, during the same period, understory species richness and cover declined an average of only 30-40% and, in many plots, there was no evidence of a decline. For plots that declined in richness or cover, the decrease was largely attributable to loss of early-seral species, such as fireweed and ceanothus, that established soon after disturbance. In contrast, forest understory species that survived disturbance, persisted despite closure of the tree canopy. These findings run counter to a common perception that trees exert strong controls on understory vegetation during canopy closure. They also highlight the importance of long-term studies for elucidating patterns and processes that cannot be understood from short-term experiments or space-for-time substitutions.
The paper, "Canopy closure exerts weak controls on understory dynamics: a 30-year study of overstory-understory interactions" was published in Ecological Monographs, 83(2), 2013, pp 221-237.
As data flow, scientists advocate for quality control
As sensor networks revolutionize ecological data collection by making it possible to collect high frequency information from remote areas in real time, scientists with the U.S. Forest Service are advocating for automated quality control and quality assurance standards that will make that data reliable.
In an article published recently in the journal Bioscience, research ecologists John Campbell and Lindsey Rustad of the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station and colleagues make a case for incorporating automated quality control and quality assurance procedures in sensor networks. The article, "Quantity is Nothing without Quality: Automated QA/QC for Streaming Environmental Sensor Data," is available at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/43678
Note that Don Henshaw from the Andrews LTER is a co-author on the publication.