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Tracking change through time and impacts of management in oak ecosystems

Consistent, integrative ecological monitoring is essential to determine the health of the forest and the impacts of management.


Forest ecosystems are constantly changing and no two days or two years are ever the same.  Some of the changes are natural, random variability due to fluctuations in weather or seed availability.  However, some changes such as those arising from fire, logging, or drought can have long-term consequences.  Constant monitoring at a variety of levels and scales is essential to separating the natural variability from long-term effects of management.  Building off the work of past scientists and natural resources staff at the Morton Arboretum, we are implementing a multi-tiered monitoring approach in the Arboretum’s East Woods.  This includes intensively monitored plots where we measure below-canopy temperature, humidity, soil moisture, and light availability and track changes in individual tree growth and the total plant community throughout the growing season.  The detailed seasonal data collected at a few locations is complemented with less frequent full forest inventories that cover the extent of different community types and management strategies represented in the East Woods.  Data collected will be used to help guide management on Arboretum property as well as serve as a model for monitoring and management in the region.

Funding sources

The Morton Arboretum

Project status