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  Andrews Highlights

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.

artwork by Leah Wilson Art Show by Leah Wilson: Solstices/Equinoxes

This work is based on work and observations at the Andrews Forest.

January 17 – May 14, 2017.  Hours: Monday – Friday 8am to 6pm

Roger W. Rogers Gallery,  Willamette University, Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center, 900 State Street, Salem, OR 97301


Without This Place screen capture 'Without This Place' video features the Andrews Forest

A new video short, "Without This Place," highlights the importance of long-term research and the research findings of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research site. The video is featured on the Andrews Forest YouTube channel.

Support for the Andrews Forest comes in many forms. To find out more, see our support page.

Alba Argerich samples water at the Andrews Forest. photo by USFS Multi-year carbon budget of a temperate headwater stream

A new publication from Andrews Forest researcher Alba Argerich and colleagues suggests that forested watersheds may not store quite as much carbon as previously thought.  Small, headwater streams, such as those found in the Andrews Forest, import a higher than expected amount of carbon. See the press release at: http://oregonstate.edu/…/small-headwater-streams-export-sur….

The full paper, "Comprehensive multi-year carbon budget of a temperate headwater stream," was published in Biogeosciences: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JG003050/full.

Andrews Forest stand. Photo by Lina DiGregorio Carbon stored reflects timber harvest history

The amount of carbon stored in tree trunks, branches, leaves and other biomass — what scientists call “aboveground live carbon” — is determined more by timber harvesting than by any other environmental factor in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, according to a report published by researchers at Oregon State University (doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2016.01.036).

In forests that are about 150 years old or less, live carbon above the ground is associated primarily with the age of a stand — reflecting how long ago it was harvested — rather than with climate, soil, topography or fire. However, as forests mature into “old growth,” the density of carbon is determined largely by factors other than harvesting.

The Pacific Northwest has some of the highest forest-carbon densities in the world. Understanding how much carbon is stored in growing forests is a critical component of international efforts to reduce climate change.

Researchers found that air temperatures, sun exposure and soils were also important in driving the variation in live carbon across the region. High-elevation forests tend to be cooler and contain lower amounts of carbon than do low-elevation forests.

Researchers conducted the study at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the Cascade Range east of Eugene. They combined data from two types of measurements: LiDAR (an aerial mapping technique that uses lasers) and ground-based forest inventories in which scientists measured tree growth at 702 forest plots. The study is one of the few to quantify carbon in living forest biomass in mountainous terrain.

Harold Zald, research associate in the College of Forestry, is lead author of the paper published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

“Very few studies have looked at above-ground carbon at a landscape scale with the combination of LiDAR and detailed disturbance history (logging and fire) that we have at the H.J. Andrews Forest,” said Zald. “These findings can be applied to the Douglas-fir dominated forests on the west slope of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington.”

The researchers found that fire was not a significant driver of carbon density in the H.J. Andrews. In the last century, these forests have experienced little severe “stand replacing fire,” but it’s possible that fire played a significant role in shaping the structure of old-growth forests and increasing carbon density over time. “Remnant old-growth trees resulting from non-stand replacing fires likely enhance the recovery of forest C (carbon) density,” they wrote.

The study was conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria.

Media contact: Nick Houtman, 541-737-0783, nick.houtman@oregonstate.edu

Sources: Harold Zald, 541-737-8719, harold.zald@oregonstate.edu

This story is also available at http://bit.ly/1U7tKrT.

Old-growth stand at the Andrews Forest. Photo by Lina DiGregorio Old-growth forests may provide buffer against rising temperatures

New research from the Andrews Forest suggests that old-growth forests may provide a buffer against rising air temperature. Press release: http://bit.ly/1U7sBkd

full paper: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/4/e1501392

watercolor by Kathleen Caprario Rot: The Afterlife of Trees. Forest Ecology Research Interpreted Through the Arts

Mark Harmon and other scientists at OSU have invited artists to use the idea of dead wood as a starting point for the creation of various kinds of  visual and musical arts.  An exhibit – “Rot: The Art of Dead Wood or The Afterlife of Trees” – was unveiled on January 14, 2016, at the Corvallis Art Center. The exhibit featured a number of events including a public reception, artist brown-bag discussion, art walk, and sessions featuring readings and music inspired by this underappreciated ecological process. The exhibit moved to the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon, from March 11 - May 1, 2016.  Harmon hopes the exhibit will bring an increased awareness of the value of dead trees to the public. See the "Rot: The Afterlife of Trees at The Arts Center" article in the Corvallis Gazette Times.

Bob Keefer artwork, cropped. Andrews Forest inspired artwork on exhibit

The Long-Term Ecological Reflections program of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest is the subject of a growing body of arts and humanities works closely linked with the long-term ecological research program based in the forest.  This work is in part the result of a collaboration among the Spring Creek Project, the Andrews Forest science community, the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the National Science Foundation, which has helped fund both the Long-Term Ecological Research and humanities programs at the Andrews Forest.

Artist Bob Keefer recently showed about 50 of his painted photographs in an exhibit called “Forest Investigations” at the Jacobs Gallery in Eugene; these works are based on a rainy Andrews Forest residency. And now several of Leah Wilson’s paintings in her “Ambient” series are displayed in the lobby of the Greenhouse—check them out and note the caption describing her science-like rigor in creating her art.  Upcoming is the exibit, "Rot: The Afterlife of Trees," a multi-media exhibition that will be shown at The Arts Center in Corvallis in January 2016 (http://theartscenter.net/rot-the-afterlife-of-trees-blog/), and at Portland's World Forestry center in February.

stream researchers at the Andrews Forest. photo by Lina DiGregorio. Using the 2015 Summer Drought to Understand Effects of Climate Change

Minimal winter snowpack, absent spring snowmelt, and contraction of the summer stream network: these are some expected impacts of climate change in the western Cascades. In this way, summer 2015 may be a preview of things to come. Lookout Creek of the Andrew Forest set a new low streamflow in our 60-year record; August flows were less than half the long-term mean. Small, gaged streams slowed to a trickle or, as in the case of Watershed 9, stopped running entirely. 

What do these extreme conditions mean for distributions and health of fish and salamanders, in-stream productivity, and trophic interactions? Fortuitously, this record-year coincides with one of the most ambitious stream ecology field seasons in recent memory, so preliminary answers to questions about effects of climate variability on stream ecosystems are already emerging.   

Long-term monitoring of stream flow and temperature, and of Mack Creek populations of cutthroat trout and coastal giant salamanders, continued on familiar schedules, led by Sherri Johnson and Stan Gregory, respectively. These long-term studies provide context for this year’s observations. 

A new cohort of stream ecology studies took advantage of learning opportunities afforded by this special year.  A new LTER7 study examines the up-stream distribution of fish and salamanders, two key predator taxa, in response to constraints imposed by landforms, summer low flows, and species interactions. Mapping of these populations in future years will provide a glimpse into changes over space and time. 

Anticipating the low summer flow of 2015, Dana Warren and Matt Kaylor secured a National Science Foundation grant to study spatial variability in nutrient availability across the stream network, and how this interacts with light level to influence primary productivity. This project complements their multiple-year study of fish and salamander movement and condition, and stream productivity, in relation to light conditions and streamflow.   

Two manipulative stream experiments were also in place to take advantage of the 2015 drought. The SCALER project, led by Brooke Penaluna and Alba Argerich, used stream exclosures, enclosures, and density manipulations to study the influence of fish and salamander populations on stream ecosystem processes. The researchers used four experimental reaches on typically-perennial streams (although several were partially dry this summer), providing the opportunity to examine treatment effects under extremely low flows.

In the related salamander movement experimental study, Ivan Arismendi and Stan Gregory investigated the effects of crowding on stress, movement, and rates of transformation from aquatic to terrestrial form of the coastal giant salamander. Initial findings suggest strong competitive interactions in prime habitat space, leading to displacement of subordinate individuals to poorer habitat. 

Like the drought-impacted streams themselves, the results of this work will continue to trickle in. And if next winter plays out the same way, as predicted, we will see even more cascading impacts on our drought-stressed system.

Thermal image of forest canopy at the Andrews Forest. created by Still Lab. Taking the Temperature of Forest Canopies

Christopher Still, Associate Professor in the department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at OSU, studies the temperature of forest canopies. As part of a renewed focus on canopy ecology and physiology at the Andrews Forest, and in collaboration with postdoctoral scholar, Youngil Kim, and Forest Director, Mark Schulze, Chris is examining the fundamental role of temperature in forest function, ranging from controls on enzymatic reactions, to ecosystem biogeochemistry, to tree distributions. While scientists often focus on air temperature, the radiative temperature of a plant is more relevant to ecosystem function. Until recently, radiative measurements of plant temperature have been challenging.

Now, scientists can measure plant temperature using thermal cameras with technology similar to that found in night-vision goggles. The image (left), from summer 2015, was collected by a thermal camera deployed in an very tall, old-growth Doug-fir tree at the Andrews Forest. The left hand side of the image shows a second-growth Doug-fir plantation canopy, while the right side shows an old-growth Doug-fir and western hemlock canopy. There are many interesting patterns in this image, such as the hotter (yellow) trunks and branches and the cooler leaves (blue). The patterns change over the day; trunks and woody parts can become colder than the foliage. We are also seeing that second-growth and old-growth canopies differ in rates of heating and cooling.

The team hopes to collect an entire year’s worth of thermal imagery, which would be unprecedented. These data will help us better understand the forest canopy, and enhance our understanding of connections among canopy temperature and photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration. The project supports numerous applied research objectives, such as understanding the thermal response of forests to drought and heat waves.

Spotted Owl.  Photo by Alan Dyck Using Maps to Study Birds

A publication co-authored by a team of Oregon State University, US Forest Service, and US Geological Survey investigators compares quality of interpretation of northern spotted owl habitat based on traditional aerial photographs, Landsat satellite imagery, and recently-available, high-resolution LiDAR data. This team, led by Steve Ackers, head of the Andrews Forest-based spotted owl crew, uses the well-studied Blue River-Andrews Forest area as a test case. Information from these data sources is used in sophisticated species distribution models for the spotted owl, and many other species as well. As one might expect, each information source has its pluses and minuses. Air photo interpretation is rather subjective, hard to reproduce, and time consuming. Landsat has proven an adequate tool for extensive assessment of habitat quality, although it lacks the high precision possible with LiDAR. It is interesting to note that the first Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite was launched in 1972, just as Eric Forsman began studies of the spotted owl in the Andrews Forest and vicinity, and the first report using that imagery in habitat assessment appeared just two years later. The meter-scale LiDAR data describing topography and vegetation structure makes possible a very refined depiction of habitat, but LiDAR data are not available for the whole region, and the high precision is not necessary for many conservation purposes.  See the paper: The evolution of mapping habitat for northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina): A comparison of photo-interpreted, Landsat-based, and lidar-based habitat maps

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